RE: Logan's Practice Log

Logan Gilmour, modified 25 Days ago.

Logan's Practice Log

Posts: 52 Join Date: 5/22/21 Recent Posts
Meditation history up to today:

In the last 6 years or so, I've had a couple stints of 2-4 months of vanilla counting breath meditation for usually about 20-30min per day. I did this for stress reduction, and never got farther than OK concentration (no longer losing count of the breaths) and some fun swirly stuff happening behind my eyelids, tingling, that kind of thing.

Starting summer 2020, I started working through TMI. By the fall, I got to where I was floating around stages 5 and 6 mostly, with strong dullness pretty much overcome and pretty good awareness and control of subtle dullness. Sits from here on out are about an hour per day. I read MCTB and got excited about insight, but decided to strengthen my concentration before diving into that.

I read Right Concentration and found the concentration jhanas work well for me, and after a couple of months (end of october) got to where I could ladder up and down through the jhanas pretty reliably after 20 minutes or so of breath meditation. I found (and still find) the second and third jhanas most easily solidified. The first one is very intense, and I usually just stay in it as long as I can stand it (which is probably less than a minute most times). Fourth jhana is quiet enough that I sometimes have trouble with subtle dullness creeping in and turning it into zoning out, and the formless jhanas really vary in quality day by day. In particular, neither perception/no-perception is super hard to maintain or even decide if I'm doing it right.

Having got to the point where I could generally play around in the jhanas, I started using them for insight meditation, trying to ease in and out of them and notice the three characteristics of their phenomena. I found that suffering and no-self worked best - impermanence didn't come as naturally. I also tried some noting, but found it difficult and the noting itself distracting, so I didn't really give it a good chance.

Pretty quickly, the insight portion of my practice started to take on a bit of a life of its own. After a few weeks of this, my practice became: 10-20 minutes of breath to get settled in, 10-20 minutes of jhanas, and then the rest noticing the three characteristics of the jhanas and whatever fell out of that. In particular, noticing the no-self characteristic of phenomena could quickly turn into a chase around my mind trying to 'catch' the self, while kind of maintaining some of the factors from whatever jhana I started in. I had some weird experiences with this for about a month in a half, and sometimes ended up meditating for up to 4 hours at a time. I also became very productive in my work, with very high creative output.

I also had a couple of very crazy dreams. In one of these dreams, I pushed my face through some kind of membrane to outside of the universe and sort of disintegrated into very loud static. I woke up with my nerves absolutely jangled. In another, a loud roar slowly filled up the room I was in until everything disappeared and I woke up super alert and feeling like I was ringing like a bell somehow. I suspect I was in A&P territory in this period.

For most of December, my meditation got progressively harder. It got hard to focus, and it seemed like I pushed through vague barriers a couple of times where things mellowed out. Once in particular I had this feeling like I was tumbled through a washing-machine of suffering for most of the sit, until it finally chilled out. However, by late December I was feeling a weird combination of peace and crazy restlessness whenever I went to sit, and my nerves were feeling kind of fried. I decided to take a break over the holidays.

This break stretched out for most of January, and my mental health really nose-dived. I had a very hard time finding meaning in work or energy for anything. Eventually I decided to go back to pure concentration practice for a while just to do something that felt good, but found my focus absolutely sucked, and I had to start out with 20 minute sits again and work back up to an hour over the course of February and March.

Finally, around the end of March, I got to where I could sit for an hour. Mental health and work output was still low, but vaguely improving. At this point I could manage crappy versions of the formed jhanas, but the formless ones were totally out of the question. At this point I went back to MCTB and figured I was probably somewhere in dark night territory, so I decided to figure out how to develop awareness rather than pure one-pointed concentration. This helped, and I noticed that the 3rd jhana in particular was much easier than the first and second, and that it was often easiest to just jump right there rather than working through the normal progression.

This gave me something to do that actually worked, and my sits became more pleasant again. I also realized at this point that I'd developed some pathological tendencies toward super-high body tension during high concentration, and that it had become extremely difficult to sit without causing myself lasting pain afterwards. In particular, tension in my legs and back would occasionally irritate my sciatic nerve on one side or the other, which made life in general very uncomfortable until it died down again.

At this point, I realized it was going to be hard to move forward without some big changes to my practice, and that I probably needed to move forward if I wanted to have a nice life again. I went hunting around and found the r/stream_entry subreddit, and from reading through their beginners guide found TWIM (Tranquil Wisdom Insight Meditation). I had heard of lovingkindness meditation before but written it off basically because I presumptously thought it sounded dumb. At this point I was ready to try anything though, and generating metta started sounding pretty nice.

My experience with focusing my attention on feelings in the jhanas made generating metta for myself pretty easy. However, it was interesting how much it threw a wrench in my concentration to shift to radiating metta to a spiritual friend. For whatever reason, this made me super likely to get lost in thought. For the first week or so, I would totally lose the meditation object many times during my sit, which was a bit appalling after coming from being able to maintain attention on the breath almost without trying. Fortunately, it seems like most of my focussing power from the breath was transferable, and after pushing through a few pretty crummy sits my attention stabilized on radiating metta to my spiritual friend.

In normal life, my mood and ability to get work done started improving very soon after moving to metta. Additionally, the Relax step built into the TWIM method gave me a great tool for balancing tension and energy. In this period I also read Seeing that Frees, and started really noticing the separation between sensations and the craving and aversion that they come with. In particular, I noticed that in normal life, it is often possible to totally dissolve or at least greatly diminish the craving part of any sensation, which really reduces suffering. This has really upped my motivation to maintain greater mindfulness off of the cushion, as I now am starting to feel like I have some tools to deal with mental objects if I realize they are there. I read Our Pristine Mind recently, and really like the simplicity of the method as something I can do whenever I remember to in day-to-day life.

Progress with TWIM has been rapid and good. I pretty quickly got to the point where the metta moved up to my head, and went through the 'breaking down the barriers' exercise and am now doing the 'radiating metta in all directions' thing while maintaining as much awareness as I can and zapping any mental objects with the relax technique as early as possible. For the last week, I've also started trying to get in two sits per day where I can, usually an hour each. I don't know if I'll maintain this much sitting for long, but right now I have time for it and good momentum.

I've decided to start a practice log because I've realized that I can pretty significantly change how I exist in the world with meditation, for better or for worse. I'm excited to develop my practice, and I'm also a bit worried about crashing into dark-night-type-times again. I'd love advice if anyone has any, and if I get anywhere with this, it would be nice if this log helped someone. A recent big motivator for me was reading through someone else's practice log and watching the way they wrote it evolve with time. It was clear from the tone of the writing alone that they made incredible progress, and it left me feeling like the whole 'enlightenment' thing might really be possible.
Logan Gilmour, modified 29 Days ago.

RE: Logan's Practice Log

Posts: 52 Join Date: 5/22/21 Recent Posts
Todays first meditation was great! One hour sit. I radiatted metta from the top of my head for 5 minutes in each direction, and then radiated metta in all directions for 30 minutes. I tried to retain as much awareness as possible, and zapped mental objects with relaxation as they arose. My experience became very panoramic and washed with light, and I felt immense relief with several of the relaxations, especially around mental objects that felt closer to 'self'. I chronically hold some tension in my neck and throat, and these tensions were reduced even after the sit. Mind became quite quiet, and the metta very gentle.

Second medation (same structure) was a little more discordant. A bit of subtle dullness to deal with, but largely overcame that in the first half hour. The extra energy I poured into awareness made most of the sit a bit edgier. Felt like space had a tendency to collapse inward, and metta was radiating into nothing. Eventually I realized that I was forcing the metta a bit, and I let it turn into something that started out more like equanimity and revealed itself as compassion. Mental objects were harder to discern.
Logan Gilmour, modified 27 Days ago.

RE: Logan's Practice Log

Posts: 52 Join Date: 5/22/21 Recent Posts
Meditation today 12:30pm was a mixed bag. One hour sit, radiated metta in each direction for five minutes, then 30 minutes radiating in all directions. Fully lost the meditation object once early on, then trouble with subtle dullness throughout meditation. Metta was vague, felt a bit hard to generate. Had some bursts of intense feeling, but they were fuzzy. Had trouble discerning the parts of mental objects and figuring out how to dissolve them. Had one period during meditation (probably a minute or two) where the mind suddenly got very quiet and I felt as though I could see each flutter of mind moving, but that faded back to subtle dullness trouble pretty quickly. One funny thought stream I had trouble with throughout was planning how I would write down the experiences I was having in this log, though I had mostly quieted that toward the end.
Logan Gilmour, modified 27 Days ago.

RE: Logan's Practice Log

Posts: 52 Join Date: 5/22/21 Recent Posts
Meditation today at 11:30am was pretty good! Energy levels were pretty balanced, and it was easy to maintain awareness as long as I kept track of it. One hour sit. During first 30 minutes of radiating metta in six directions for five minutes each, the starting metta turned into compassion, so I radiated that for most of the sit. About 20 minutes in, started to notice that thoughts manifest in awareness as something like swirly ripples or turbulence, and awareness tends to contract around them. This was a very helpful thing to notice, and it made it much easier to catch distractions early on.

This made me change up my practice a bit, I believe for the better. I have been dissolving the craving associated with mental objects using the 6R method from TWIM (Remember Release Relax Re-Smile Return Repeat, though really only Release Relax Re-Smile Return are part of the active process in my opinion), and I have added a deliberate expansion of awareness to the Release Step. My understanding is that you are meant to release your attention from the mental object, though I had originally intepretted that as sort of pushing attention back to the meditation object. However, just expanding awareness and sort of shifting attention to that expanded awareness as an intermediate step really helps me keep my mind quiet. With an expansive awareness, the ripples of thought become much more apparrent and I catch them earlier. Maybe this is what I was supposed to be doing all along, though honestly the contraction part of things and expanding awareness I seem to remember more from Seeing That Frees rather than the TWIM stuff.

Being able to maintain this expanded awareness seems almost incompatible with having subtle dullness, so I am hopeful that this is going to really help in that area.
Logan Gilmour, modified 26 Days ago.

RE: Logan's Practice Log

Posts: 52 Join Date: 5/22/21 Recent Posts
One hour sit today at 10:00. First half hour was radiating metta in each of six directions, five minutes each. Metta turned into compassion after about 10 minutes, so I radiated that. Awareness was mostly clear and bright, though there was a bit of contraction here and there. About 35 minutes in, the compassion turned into something more like joy. This was an interesting experience - it had aspects of the first concentration jhana, but if I were able to be tranquil and relaxed in that state. Normally for me, the first concentration jhana is so intense I can't handle it for more than a minute or two. Quite enjoyable.

Got to the point where mental objects started showing up as ripples in awareness, and zipped along smoothing them out. Started noticing the craving aspect of the ripples extra strongly, and then realized I could just not care about them instead of constantly trying to smooth them out. Very rapidly the feeling of joy fell away and mind felt extremely calm and quiet. For the rest of the sit, I rode waves that carried me up into a more joyful and active mind-managing state and down into a more calm state that seemed like equanimity. Now, writing this up, I feel profoundly peaceful.
Tim Farrington, modified 26 Days ago.

RE: Logan's Practice Log

Posts: 2470 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
Hi Logan, and a slightly belated welcome to DhO! This is a fascinating log, and I figured that jumping in after a sit in which you went from metta to compassion to joy to peace would be a good moment. Hard to screw up there, lol.

Thanks for your detailed history, which puts your practice in a good context. That you have really done some time in the dark night is priceless, because it is there that you really start to understand what's at stake in real meditation practice, which is sanity and life itself, the deeper you get. It keeps me humble, and keeps me practicing in all weathers. It's also impressive that you did major re-toolings in your approach along the way; it takes courage and faith to get through something like that, letting go of the sense of security in a technique that worked in its time and place, and consciously accepting the scary empty/obscure time necessary to establish your practice in the fresh way, without guarantees. The fruit of that process, as you have found, is that it is pretty clear when something does work, and it's much easier to appreciate the miracle of anything "working" after experiencing a good spell of nothing working.

This TWIM (Tranquil Wisdom Insight Meditation), your lovingkindness practice, is close to my own heart. I work in the Judeo-Christian tradition, as my home territory (Buddhism is my second language, lol, which is why I have a funny accent sometimes), and the shorthand of the "God is love" thing can also sound pretty dumb and simplistic. But you are tasting the mystery of metta, compassion, joy, and peace as something you can send, radiate, give. Where does that good stuff come from? Nowhere, really, right out of nothing, as far as I can tell. That is clear after a good dark night. You go deep enough into that nothingness, to where there really is no particular reason for anything, much less anything good, and you accept the bottomlessness of that. Your vocabulary gets blown, whatever language you were speaking to start with, and here in the land of words and form it all still sounds dumb and simplistic. But you can't stop to argue when you've got fruit to give away.

And your practice is clearly not static, lol, you're paying attention and making a multitude of fine tunings, refreshings, nuances, as you go, as evidenced just in this brief log so far. It ain't broke, it's dynamic and conscientious and open-ended, and it's lovely to see. 

Again, welcome to DhO, Logan, and I look forward to sharing the path with you here.
Logan Gilmour, modified 25 Days ago.

RE: Logan's Practice Log

Posts: 52 Join Date: 5/22/21 Recent Posts
Hi Tim, thank you! I've kept most of my meditation experience pretty close to my chest for the most part, so to 'open up' about it and have you write such a thoughtful response really warms my heart!

In particular, I'm relieved to hear that the tuning and changes I've done sound sane. Doing this on my own based purely on my (hopefully reasonable) intepretation of books and a few other written things has really given me the feeling that I've been making it up as I go along. Though it has been a bit of a run-around to get here, I think that the lovingkindness meditation is a good base for me to build on, and hopefully I shouldn't need to jump around so broadly from here on out.

The dark night experience was interesting because it was in many ways indiscerneable from previous cycles of depression I've experienced. However, I've never had such a strong feeling sense of jumping in semi-deliberately. I was familiar with the concept of the dark night from MCTB before actually getting there, but was hoping I'd be one of the lucky people who breezes through it. Neither have I ever had the feeling of actively navigating back out of a depressive cycle -- usually for me it ends by pure waiting around. Who knows which way the arrow of causality points here -- maybe the meditation started working because I was cycling out of the depression rather than the other way around -- but it feels like figuring out my meditation pulled me out. Maybe it was a bit of both. It was definitely a short depressive spell.

Thank you again for the warm welcome Tim. I haven't been much of an active participant in any online forum before, but I'm looking forward to bobbing around DhO.
George S, modified 25 Days ago.

RE: Logan's Practice Log

Posts: 1775 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Hi Logan,

Welcome to the DhO!

I meditated out of a serious depression and it was very clear for me that the Dark Night was a condensation of my depressive cycles, with the DN length dropping quickly from weeks to days to hours (whereas my depressions had lasted 2-3 years each).

I hope you find what you are looking for here.

Best wishes,
​​​​​​​George 
Logan Gilmour, modified 25 Days ago.

RE: Logan's Practice Log

Posts: 52 Join Date: 5/22/21 Recent Posts
Hi George, I'm glad to hear it! Both for your sake and mine.

I'd like to continue along the path as far as I can manage, but just building some tools that help with the depressive cycles is a huge win already.

-- Logan
Logan Gilmour, modified 25 Days ago.

RE: Logan's Practice Log

Posts: 52 Join Date: 5/22/21 Recent Posts
One hour sit at 10:00 am, 30 minutes radiating metta in each direction of six directions, 30 minutes in all directions. Mind was somehow both clear and bright and prone to distraction today. Maybe a bit restless. Metta turned into a sort of muted joy almost immediately, though it was a bit edgy. Lots of mind wandering.

Later in the sit (around 40 minutes in) I got a bit frustrated with the mind wandering and powered a lot of concentration into keeping awareness expanded and clear around the meditation object. This made for a bit of an excess of energy and tension, but did ultimately get me to a more stable place with less mind wandering, and I was able to ease off the gas a bit for the last 10 minutes and notice some of the more fine-grained detail of mental objects arising. One good note is that there was almost no dullness at all today.
Logan G., modified 24 Days ago.

RE: Logan's Practice Log

Posts: 52 Join Date: 5/22/21 Recent Posts
One hour sit at 10:00am. Radiated compassion 5 minutes per direction, then radiated in all directions for 30 minutes. Seemed to settle on a blend of compassion and joy today and be pretty stable there. Awareness was bright and open. Had some troubles throughout with mind wandering to a technical problem I've been figuring out with my work. This is in some ways a welcome distraction to deal with, as it means I'm excited enough about working on things to get caught up in them again. After spending some time doing my normal relaxation of the craving of mental objects as they arose, I had the feeling like I could follow the thread of those objects a bit deeper and started proding at the suffering common to many of those objects. This felt a bit closer to 'self', and felt more like 'hacking at the branches' rather that 'hacking at the leaves'. Toward the end of the practice, the compassion/joy hybrid got very strong, turned into a sort of explosion of compassion for all suffering combined with the joy of knowing it can be reduced, and then got very peaceful for the last few minutes of practice.
Logan G., modified 23 Days ago.

RE: Logan's Practice Log

Posts: 52 Join Date: 5/22/21 Recent Posts
One and a half hour sit at 11:30am. Radiated metta 5 minutes per direction for the first 30 minutes, which became compassion and then joy about in the first 10 minutes. Abount 40 minutes in, the joy became very intense. At around 50 minutes, joy became very calm, and some tensions behind my eyes and in my neck and throat became apparent. Spent some time relaxing and refocusing on radiating joy, and at about 55 minutes in, I seemed to fall into equanimity. Decided to extend the sit when the timer went off as I had time and the feeling of equanimity was as strong as its ever been. No dullness at all up to this point, though some trouble splitting apart the components of mental objects.

As energy levels settled down with equanimity, had some minor bouts of subtle dullness, but got better at monitoring awareness and keeping it expanded. At one point, let attention focus entirely on the sensation of awareness, and sort of let the middle of mind fade away. After this odd sensation stabilized, I tried relaxing away my awareness as well. Consiousness partially faded out for a moment, and then came back very strong, with a sense of energy coursing through my mind very quickly. Very bright mind, but still equanimity. I don't think I'd call this a cessation - didn't have a 'missing' piece of awareness or record skip feeling to it. I think a tiny bit of consciousness stayed online throughout. Interesting experience though. I tried to replicate it a couple of times and partially succeeded with less fireworks. Ultimately decided that it was a distraction and went back to radiating equanimity for the rest of the sit.
Logan G., modified 22 Days ago.

RE: Logan's Practice Log

Posts: 52 Join Date: 5/22/21 Recent Posts
One hour sit at 2:00. Went straight to radiating equanimity today, as anything else felt edgy and not right. Started up by radiating 5 minutes per direction, and even in this initial period seemed to be aware of more pieces of mental objects. Had some stomach discomfort, and was able to watch how the sensation turned into a sort of pressure, which turned my attention to it, and then generated a sense of self. Last 30 minutes was radiating equanimity in all directions. Later in the sit, had a minute or so where I became very aware of all of the suffering in my mind and sort of pushed through it. Working on balancing my energy between restlessness and dullness, and keeping my awareness bright and expansive without letting it become overstimulating.
Logan G., modified 21 Days ago.

RE: Logan's Practice Log

Posts: 52 Join Date: 5/22/21 Recent Posts
Woke up at 4am (very early for me) with a lot of neck and upper back tension and feeling weirdly wired. Tried to get back to sleep for a while, but couldn't. Meditated 1.5 hours at 7am. Tried radiating equanimity 5 minutes each of six directions, had a lot of trouble with mind wandering. Tried radiating joy instead, that boosted my focus a bit. Mind got reasonably settled down and suprisingly clear. Then radiated equanimity for 30 minutes until timer went off. Lots of pressure/discomfort in face and throat, oscillated between mostly being indifferent to it and bothered by it. A bit before the timer went off, I had another 'wall of suffering' push where I suddenly became aware of what felt like all of the suffering in my body. Interestingly, this time I also noticed that even my awareness itself was sort of a flickering loop of tiny cravings. This initially kind of horrified me - it felt like existance was permeated through with suffering. Was a moment of very intense alarm (kind of feeling trapped) and body tensions and then relaxed.

I chilled out after this, and just started watching the loop of flickering awareness for a while, feeling pretty peaceful. I think this was the most clearly I've ever percieved impermanence. Timer went off, and decided to sit for another half an hour. After getting a sense of where the craving sat in the awareness loop, I started playing around with relaxing that craving, which resulted in consiousness partially fading out. Kind of an interesting feeling.
George S, modified 21 Days ago.

RE: Logan's Practice Log

Posts: 1775 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Getting into some core dukkha insights here. We're so used to thinking of awareness/consciousness as an independently existing 'thing', it can be a bit of a shock when you realize that at the bottom of it there is nothing more than flickering sensations. There is a certain amount of core suffering which is linked to the craving for a smooth field of awarenesss which doesn't exist. If you look closely though you might see that the sensations are "aware of themselves" - along with the arising & passing of each sensation is the arising and passing of the awareness of it. Once you get over the shock and sense of loss, there is a much more natural mode of perception available where the impermanent field is just seen and accepted for what it is - without the craving for stability and associated suffering.
 
Logan G., modified 20 Days ago.

RE: Logan's Practice Log

Posts: 52 Join Date: 5/22/21 Recent Posts
I think that sense of the dependant arising of awareness and sensation started to come together for me today. Thank you for your note about the craving for a smooth awareness - I think it planted a seed that helped me get past it.
Logan G., modified 20 Days ago.

RE: Logan's Practice Log

Posts: 52 Join Date: 5/22/21 Recent Posts
1 hour 45 minute sit today at 10:00am. Pretty distracted starting out. Mind has been a bit all over the place since yesterdays sit, pretty high anxiety about things. First half hour radiated 10 minutes metta, 10 minutes compassion, 10 minutes joy. Fair bit of mind wandering and small bits of dullness. Then radiated equanimity for 30 minutes. Still some trouble with mind wandering, had a hard time keeping awareness broad enough to catch mental objects arising. Difficulty relaxing craving. Mental objects were suprisingly clear once I noticed them though. I realized that the difference between the 'release' and 'relax' steps in the 6R process I've been using works best when I focus on releasing the clinging to an object and then relax the craving associated with it. Before, I'd been just trying to generally release the whole mud-ball associated with the object, and focusing the release on the clinging is much more effective. Started to notice the suffering in everything, and then around 55 minutes in, crashed through another suffering wall brought on by releasing some clinging closer to self. Total phase-change in the whole meditation after this. Realized I've sort of been trying to smooth out the waves of the ocean of craving, but I'm in the ocean myself getting tossed around by the waves. There's no refuge from the craving - it's in everything. After letting go of this attempting to escape the craving, meditation became effortless. I had a broad awareness of all of the suffering in my experience, but somehow this awareness made the clinging stop happening. I decided to sit for another 45 minutes. Totally effortless. Had a couple of bliss waves, but generally very peaceful just watching craving ripple through awareness. Had an occaisonal mind wandering, but they were easy to notice and awareness opened back up very quickly. Something about distributing awareness across all craving equally seems to make it impossible for any one craving to get the spotlight and develop clinging. Some stomach discomfort that had been totally derailing earlier and very difficult to relax away became a total non issue. I was aware of it, but it didn't bug me. Toward the end of the sit, expanded my awareness to the suffering associated with fabricating a self and just watched that for a bit.
Logan G., modified 19 Days ago.

RE: Logan's Practice Log

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1 hour sit today at 10:00am. First half hour radiated 10 minutes metta, 10 minutes compassion, 10 minutes joy, two directions per. Second half hour radiated equanimity. Pretty vague today - feeling a bit unwell. I took some benadryl yesterday to see if it's allergies that are bugging me, and that left me a bit fog-headed. Definitely some dullness today. Not really much development to report.
Logan G., modified 18 Days ago.

RE: Logan's Practice Log

Posts: 52 Join Date: 5/22/21 Recent Posts
Very nice meditation today. 1.5 hour sit. Radiated 10 minutes metta, 10 minutes compassion, 10 minutes joy (five minutes in two directions each), then 1 hour equanimity. Mind was bright with little dullness today. Had some mind wanderings toward stuff with my work, but caught these relatively quickly. Awareness stayed open easily, and was already able to see mental objects with ok clarity at just 20 minutes in to the session. At about 40 minutes in, smashed through a wall of suffering to land in the same amazing mental space as a couple days ago, where I became aware of all of the suffering in my experience without ever getting attached to it.

Stayed in this mode for the rest of the sit (another 40 minutes). Totally effortless. Around 70 minutes in, I started noticing the sensations around a sense of self very clearly, and how they arise as a byproduct of other sensations. Focused specifically on the relationship of these feelings to the broad awareness of the visual field, which slowly collapsed the self feelings into the visual field and made them feel like one solid chunk of aware sensations.

This had some weird effects. For the rest of the sit, the experience of having 'free-will' or a 'do-er' or something was either gone or greatly attentuated. I also experienced the 'narrator' noticing this and commenting on it. I'm sort of using the term 'I' here retrospectively as I reconstruct the memories from this experience - it's a bit more nuanced then that. I don't think I got rid of the sense of a self exactly, more like it was distributed it across a variety of mental phenomena. There were a couple moments where the lack of a 'do-er' felt almost like sleep paralysis, but in a way that didn't bother me. The 'do-er' periodically showed up to do the 6R relax thing to the narrator, and I just sort of experienced this. The narrator never totally went away, but it was greatly reduced in frequency and magnitude.

As this effect settled in, I think that suffering largely went away. Like not just I'm aware of it but it doesn't bug me - rather it was just gone, and all that was left was the sensations that would normally give rise to cravings. Very interesting experience.
Sam Gentile, modified 18 Days ago.

RE: Logan's Practice Log

Posts: 1170 Join Date: 5/4/20 Recent Posts
Logan G.
Very nice meditation today. 1.5 hour sit. Radiated 10 minutes metta, 10 minutes compassion, 10 minutes joy (five minutes in two directions each), then 1 hour equanimity. Mind was bright with little dullness today. Had some mind wanderings toward stuff with my work, but caught these relatively quickly. Awareness stayed open easily, and was already able to see mental objects with ok clarity at just 20 minutes in to the session. At about 40 minutes in, smashed through a wall of suffering to land in the same amazing mental space as a couple days ago, where I became aware of all of the suffering in my experience without ever getting attached to it.

Hi Logan,
Welcome to Dho! I really like what you're doing with mixing mettta, compassion, joy  and others. Going to the begining about depression. I used to suffer from dark night/depression for years and it then became less than six months this time between my 2nd A+P and SE. Meditation helped a lot of the depression go  away.

Stayed in this mode for the rest of the sit (another 40 minutes). Totally effortless. Around 70 minutes in, I started noticing the sensations around a sense of self very clearly, and how they arise as a byproduct of other sensations. Focused specifically on the relationship of these feelings to the broad awareness of the visual field, which slowly collapsed the self feelings into the visual field and made them feel like one solid chunk of aware sensations.

I like the effort, especially the amount of time that you are devooting to practice.

This had some weird effects. For the rest of the sit, the experience of having 'free-will' or a 'do-er' or something was either gone or greatly attentuated. I also experienced the 'narrator' noticing this and commenting on it. I'm sort of using the term 'I' here retrospectively as I reconstruct the memories from this experience - it's a bit more nuanced then that. I don't think I got rid of the sense of a self exactly, more like it was distributed it across a variety of mental phenomena. There were a couple moments where the lack of a 'do-er' felt almost like sleep paralysis, but in a way that didn't bother me. The 'do-er' periodically showed up to do the 6R relax thing to the narrator, and I just sort of experienced this. The narrator never totally went away, but it was greatly reduced in frequency and magnitude.

As this effect settled in, I think that suffering largely went away. Like not just I'm aware of it but it doesn't bug me - rather it was just gone, and all that was left was the sensations that would normally give rise to cravings. Very interesting experience.

Very interesting! Not a cessesation of a self?

Logan G., modified 17 Days ago.

RE: Logan's Practice Log

Posts: 52 Join Date: 5/22/21 Recent Posts
Hi Sam, thanks!

I've really been liking going through the Four Immeasurables (I think that's what they're called) at the start of each meditation. It really sets up my sit to be comfortable, and I think it also helps build the habit of employing them off the cushion. I think technically speaking I should be just radiating equanimity now if I were following the Tranquil Wisdom Insight Meditation process exactly, but I find going through all of them works better for me. It's kind of like laddering through the concentration jhanas - they just lead into each other nicely, and I like them all. It also doesn't seem to be a big deal that I send different immeasurables in different directions (right now I do lovingkindness up and down, compassion forward and backward, and joy left and right, and then equanimity in all directions) - awareness opens up just fine.

I'm glad meditation has helped your depression too! I have a sort of macabre curiousity about what it will be like if I end up depressed or in the DN again. I feel like my toolbox for dealing with it expanded massively over the last few months. That being said, in previous depressions, I've had a hard time remembering things like that, so who knows. I also think it's actually plausible my previous depressive cycles were DN related - I had a couple of experiences earlier in life that were pretty A&P-ish.

Regarding effort, it's paradoxically pretty low right now - I'm just in a nice period where sitting happens to be easy. Really, my main problem is deciding when I'd better go get stuff done haha. Currently, I only commit myself to an hour a day of practice, and then extend that if it feels like I should and I have the time. On a shitty day, I'll even just do half an hour, or twenty minutes, if that's all I feel I can commit to. I really try not to have any zero days, but sometimes it happen. Recently the meditation has been good, so I do more. I'm trying to just treat that as a bonus so that it's easy to let go of if (when?) it gets crummy again in the future.

I haven't had what I would call a cessation of self yet. I feel like I'm zeroing in on it right now. At your prompting, I put more focus on the sensation of self in my sit today. I'd say I got to a similar state with almost all suffering being attenuated away. Paying more attention to it today, there definitely there was some suffering left making up a sense of self. I haven't figured out what to do with it yet, but I feel like every sit these days I get a different glimpse of how the mind works, so I'm feeling hopeful!

Thanks for your welcome and notes! Your prompting on self in particular was useful.

    -- Logan
Logan G., modified 16 Days ago.

RE: Logan's Practice Log

Posts: 52 Join Date: 5/22/21 Recent Posts
Two hour sit today starting at 10:00am. Radiated 10 minutes metta, 10 minutes compassion, 10 minutes joy (five minutes in two directions each), then 1.5 hours equanimity.

Sit started out good immediately. Mind was bright and clear, and had no mind wandering where I lost the meditation object at all. Had some thoughts, but they were quickly noticed and 6R'd away. Compassion in particular was very pronounced today, with solidity I associated with concentration jhana. Mental objects were clear throughout the practice, and there was no dullness.

About 40 minutes in, I smashed through a couple of total experience of suffering walls and ended up in effortless awareness. This seems to be a pattern - something about having all of the experience of suffering reveal itself seems to let me step back from it and just observe it without getting caught up in it.

After this, I started noticing a separation between a sense the 'observer', which is the most selfy bit of me, and my attention. Attention seemed to have a bit of a life of its own, and I started to notice how the 'do-er' (which wasn't as distinctly sepparated today) and attention interact. If I concentrate on just moving my attention to a specific sensation, it seems to have a tiny bit of mass to it, like it takes a bit of push to get it moving and then a bit of an 'arresting' sensation to get it steadied on an object. However, if instead the 'do-er' gives more gentle, general 'instructions', like 'scan around randomly' or 'scan up and down the visual field', attention will immediately zip all around the contents of awareness with a feeling of total lightness. It really felt like a distinct and aware entity.

I recall Daniel mentioning something about staying 'curious' in meditation to keep progress going in MCTB, which I've thought about periodically and had a hard time understanding, as the amount of effort I was powering into meditation seemed to preclude any kind of curiousity. Now though, with this recent arrival at effortless meditation, it really feels like I could just hang out in my mind all day and watch how things work. It's very cool. I stopped my sit today because I have stuff to do, but it really felt like I could have sat for much longer.

Later in the sit, I started really trying to deconstruct the sense of an observer. This seems to be a harder nut to crack. I started trying to see what happened when I relaxed away whatever was most actively being observed, and felt how 'observing' comensurately faded away. This was a good exercise which reduced the amount of 'self' feelings, but didn't do away with them completely. The contrast did however highlight the suffering in those self feelings, which let me start becoming aware of them more acutely. It combination with this, the impermanence of the observer became more apparent, and I started get a sense of the boundaries between moments of the observer existing or something. Honestly it is a bit hard to describe, but essentially I was able to meditate on the impermanence in a moment of observing, which seem to be chained to the next moment of observing by a 'craving for continuity' or something. This gave a sense of all three characteristics being observed at once, which was something I haven't really managed before, or at least not with the same clarity.

It really felt like figuring out something about the observer was on the tip of my tongue, but oh well - things to do! Lots of time to meditate in the future.
Logan G., modified 16 Days ago.

RE: Logan's Practice Log

Posts: 52 Join Date: 5/22/21 Recent Posts
2 hour sit today starting at 10:30. Bad sleep last night, and some stomach discomfort. Rather than trying to relax away all of these sensations, I decided today to turn the 'relax' step into an 'accept' step. Reading around in the forums and reviewing some of MCTB prompted this change, as well as my recent sits where I manage to get to a point where I'm just accepting all craving without any effort. As feelings arose, I just accepted them. As worrying arose that I was being too chill with my practice, I just accepted it. This lead to a first 'suffering wall' experience much earlier in the sit, maybe 15 minutes in, while radiating compassion.

Started radiating equanimity half an hour in, and had lots of kind of dreamy thoughts. Just accepted them. This went on for about half an hour, in a sort of oscillating between spaced out dreamy dullness and increasingly transquil moments of a sort of hyper-clarity. At about the 1 hour mark, the clarity prevailed and the spacing out stopped, so I decided to keep sitting.

I then spent some time trying to 'accept' the sensation of a separate observer. I did this for another half an hour, until the alarm went off, and decided to keep sitting as it was feeling right. Having accepted the observer sensations for a while, I decided to go looking for other parts of mind. I accepted the 'do-er' intending to accept the observer. I accepted the narrator keeping track of it all. I accepted awareness holding the stuff that the observer was observing. This process shrunk down the space of feelings I was accepting as the observer until it was just sort of a location, and that location was felt to be in awareness. Some habitual sense of a self lingered in spite of this, but it was very faint.

I just carried on with this process for 10 minutes or so, and watched the 'do-er' trying to calm it all down - calm down the narrator, calm down the 'do-ing'. Then there was a blip in perception (kind of like degaussing an old crt but for my awareness), and then it felt like awareness sort of charged up with sensations over the next minute or two. I felt some excitement over whether this might be stream entry or something, and accepted that. Sat for about 10 more minutes feeling charged up until the bell rang.

During that time, I noticed that I could call up the observer still, but it felt kind of 'sticky' like it was glued into part of awareness and to sepparate it out was a bit like stretching an elastic band away from something it wrapped around. Very notable 'craving' pressure associated with it. Leaving it alone it sort of snapped back to be either part or just closer to awareness. Even now if I try to pay attention to the feeling of there being an observer its a bit sticky. Also, I noticed that the 'center' of the observer seemed to loosen. I could move the 'center' of the observer more freely around in awareness. This also seems to be true as I write this. The further from my head I move the sensation of the 'center' of observation, the more dissonance there is, but for example I can close my eyes and turn the location of my left ear into the center of consiousness. Kind of a weird feeling. I can even put it into one of my hands in a kind of vague way. Interested to see what effects stick around from this.
Logan G., modified 15 Days ago.

RE: Logan's Practice Log

Posts: 52 Join Date: 5/22/21 Recent Posts
One hour sit today starting at 3:00. Started by radiating 10 minutes lovingkindness, five minutes forward, five minutes backward. At just five minutes in smashed through a suffering wall and and got into good territory without mind wandering and lots of ease. At 10 minutes in switched to compassion. Ride felt a little bumpy. Had an overwhelming but momentary sense of sadness for a minute or so, then had a weird fear that I was going to suffocate for 30 seconds or so. This was weirdly easy to accept and move on from. Then had some general restlessness but also in an easy way. Smashed through one more suffering wall at around 20 minutes in, though smashed isn't even the right word anymore - more like glided through a styrofoam wall of suffering. Then switched to radiating 10 minutes joy. This was the most intense version of this I've had, with a bit of spontaneous laughter and rapid enery build up, but also without requiring much effort. Tiny bit of spontaneous laughing. Joy felt very solid. At 30 minutes in, switched to radiating equanimity in all directions.

This was very nicely easy. At some point in here I returned to a kind of daydreamy slightly wandering mind, though I noted that awareness was solid underneath - like my mind was only partly wandering, without collapsing awareness. At some point during this, I noticed that the 'narrator' was talking about this, and I found this little knot of suffering that seemed to stem from the meditation being a tiny bit performative, like I was meditating just so I could write it down here in this log later. Realized I've gotten a bit attached to the logging and that I have been getting excited to see if anyone responds to the log entries. Accepted this feeling and then moved to noting and accepting the 'performative' feeling narrator whenever that arose.

This oscillated in and out of a sense of less and more daydreamy until the end of the sit. There were several times where I realized afterward that very little had been going on in the mind, though awareness was panoramic throughout. Very nice sit.
Logan G., modified 14 Days ago.

RE: Logan's Practice Log

Posts: 52 Join Date: 5/22/21 Recent Posts
Woah, a lot happened in today's sit. Also, I've felt pretty weird of for the last couple of days. Two days ago my ability to notice the vibrance of the world increased dramatically. After reading 'Our Pristine Mind', I've been trying to sit in Pristine Mind (I think this is the same as rigpa) during daily activities that don't require thought, like getting up, having a shower and a coffee, walking outside, that kind of thing. Sometimes I can get really engrossed in the intricacy of the world, and it becomes much more clear and present and beautiful, but it used take a bit of effort and focusing to get to this point. For the last two days, this form of awareness has become instantly available, and I'm falling into it by unintentionally here and there.

Also, I've been feeling like the broadness of awareness I've been developing has almost gotten 'stuck on'. Even when my mind is occupied or I'm talking to people or listening, there's this background awareness that doesn't really collapse anymore, or at least not to the same degree. It's given me a very nice sense of distance from my emotional responses to things - I'm very likely to catch emotions before they turn into a trouble. Interestingly, my emotions have been a bit up and down, weird anxiety here, weird sense of peace there, irritated for a moment, zoned out chill for a bit, but there's a sense of background tranquility from which I've been able to monitor it, so it hasn't really been a big deal.

This feeling of my awareness being stuck on is accompanied by weird sensations in my face and head. It's a combination of tingles and pressure. It made it a bit hard to fall asleep last night, though once I just accepted it and quieted my mind, I fell into a good, restful sleep. When I woke up this morning the awareness and feelings switched on immediately and I was awake much more quickly than normal.

One hour sit today at 3:00pm. Immediately meditation was effortless and dreamy. A couple of days ago I had something cessation-like and recalled that one of the things to try for is repeating it in order to see if it might have been stream entry. I established an intention to have another fruition some time in the sit and then just immediately had one. Like maybe fifteen seconds later at the most. The cessation was still honestly a bit unclear - pretty hard to look at. It was an experience of awareness sort of draining away into a void and then flicking back. A bit twisty. Same kind of charging up of awareness following it. Pretty exciting, and honestly very surprising. Just tried to accept it and keep sitting, since I had barely sat at all. I think I was only about 6 minutes in, radiating lovingkindness downward at that point.

About five minutes later I moved to radiating compassion forward. A bit after that, my whole face fucking hurt. Jaw tension, throat pain, pushing behind my eyes and nose. Haven't had anything like that since about 8 months ago. This lasted about 5 minutes. Then, I was radiating compassion backward, and it turned into the most focused and intense compassion I have ever radiated. I became the tip of a compassion laser beam blasting from the top of my head into space at the speed of light. I exaggerate a little, but it was basically very intense. From blasting off to settling down probably took about a minute, but it's honestly hard to say.

After this, I settled deeper and deeper into a murky tranquility. Kind of like settling down into deep water. Sensations got very muted. It was a bit unsettling how distant and vague sensations got, but it was also very peaceful and comfortable. At this point I'd moved to radiating joy, and the joy seemed very muted and far away, like the top of my head was a hundred feet above me. Very quiet mind.

After about five minutes of this, I started getting restless. I started radiating equanimity in all directions. This portion of the sit is hard to keep track of, and I might mess up the ordering of events.  I recall being irritated with the whole notion of meditation gurus/teachers/writers, and feeling like they were all neurotic. I noticed this feeling and accepted it somewhat bewilderedly, as I have never met or spoken with any of them and this feeling kind of came out of nowhere. I was getting more restless, and then suddenly felt a huge wave of sadness that sort of crushed down on the top of my head like someone was dumping the ocean directly on to me. This lasted for maybe 10 or 15 seconds.

An interesting thought came along after this. My partner and I may have to move soon depending on whether we can find a tenant for the basement of our rental. We've been trying to sort this out for several months now. I don't particularly want to move, but I realized that I've let the uncertainty of that potential move and the worrying therein cause me probably as much suffering as actually moving would at this point. I accepted these thoughts and got back to the sit.

A bit after this, I started feeling trapped, maybe a tiny bit like I wasn't getting enough air. This probably persisted for about 3-5 minutes. Then things sort of chilled out for a bit, but honestly in a kind of ominous way, like the calm before a storm or something. I could practically hear ominous music in the background. After a minute or two of weirdness, I was basically exploded by a storm of sensations through my body, with colours shattering through a mostly black visual field and my fight-or-flight response revving up. Strangely the now switched-on awareness feeling persisted through this and gave me a base to watch and accept it from in an almost tranquil way.

After this, I got back to a sense of ease and clear awareness, though it had a bit of a coarse and irritating quality to it. I stayed in this state for probably about 10 minutes, until I smashed through a more familiar-feeling suffering wall and ended up back in the state I've been achieving recently, where things are clear and open and effortless, and I can watch how the mind works. I remained here for the last 10 minutes or so of the sit.

I stopped after the hour bell because, though I actually felt pretty charged up and good right now, I also feel kind of like a rag that's been wrung out. I've been trying to avoid too much speculation about maps and stuff in my practice, but here is some speculation: The effortless meditation I've been having has very likely been equanimity. The daydreamy version is probably high equanimity. I think that I'm now in review, and that the thing I thought might be stream entry was actually stream entry.

Frankly, I'm just some person in their house reading stuff about meditation and sitting alone, so I don't think I'm qualified to really say. Part of me wonders if I've just fabricated myself a wacky experience based on expectations from what I've read -- I see now why some traditions think the maps should be kind of secret. Certainly, when I had what I now would guess was an A&P event some time in November, I spent a couple days walking around thinking I was enlightened (of course then soon after I plunged into a multiple-month totally-crappy dark-night-type time), so there's definitely room to be wrong again. I'll get back to you in a year and a day.

I don't really know what to do with this speculation other than to keep sitting, so that's what I will do for now. If this is all what I think it is, I imagine I will do some more review cycles. Hopefully it wasn't just a totally different A&P event haha - would prefer not to do another dark night just now. Equanimity makes everything easy, so now that I am pretty sure I know what it looks like, I think I will keep trying to cultivate that outside of sits as part of my 'Pristine Mind' exercise.

Whew! Bit of a wall of text today.
George S, modified 13 Days ago.

RE: Logan's Practice Log

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Nice balance of concentration and insight ... keep going! 
Logan G., modified 13 Days ago.

RE: Logan's Practice Log

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Thanks George! I had sort of forgotten that the practice I'm doing is a blend of concentration and insight - being steeped in it, I just think of it as 'practice' haha. Your prompting inspired me to think about the concentration jhanas today, and I recalled Daniel mentioning in MTCB that he found he could get his best look at cessations in the formless realms, so I decided to ladder up to infinite space and try to have a cessation there.

This was an interesting experience. Currently my practice feels kind of like a roller coaster - it's fast and intense and rapidly shifting, but it's also very much on rails. I feel very pulled along by it. I remembered that there's a rough paralell to the progress of insight in the progression of the formed jhanas, so I let that inform when it felt right to move to the next jhana. I started with radiating joy upward, and after about 3 minutes of this I had enough good feeling going on to sort of transmute them into first jhana. As usual, it was very intense, although my work on awareness helped me spread it through my body more quickly as well as keep it from frazzling me too much.

Moved to second jhana pretty quickly, pretty much as soon as I was saturated with the first jhana, and got some face/neck/throat pain/pressure and just sat with that until it blasted into a very extreme bliss that totally took over my whole awareness. This also didn't take long, and then started to fall away. I let my self sink down into third jhana as the center of things fell away. This was murky and had some dark-night stuff going on, but in general was also pretty quiet and controlled as I maintained some pretty ok third jhana factors throughout. Had a pretty obvious sadness wave, a bit of fear here and there, and then went through a quick blender of weirdness before everything settled down and I fell further into fourth jhana.

I chilled out there for a bit, until I tipped through a mini suffering barrier and fell furthur into a more peaceful fourth jhana. I spent some time there, and then began expanding it into infinite space. I got sort of fine infinite space going after several minutes, and realized I was putting too much effort into it and just switched to be chill about infinite space, and it showed itself more completely. After a few minutes of this, I resolved to have a cessation, and then had one pretty quickly, maybe in a minute or two. I did indeed feel like I got a better look at it from this vantage. It felt like a big eye blinked, but the eye was made of the space in which consiousness existed. This is a bit hard to explain - I guess its like space-time itself physically squished down  into nothing and then popped back open like a big 4D eyelid. Infinite spaced returned with revved up awareness, and it was the best, most solid inifinite space I've ever been in. It was a bit overwhelming how spacious and good I felt. Very nice.

However, this very naturally turned into infinite consiousness, and then the face pain showed up again, and I realized I'd tipped myself over into another cycle. The alarm then rang, and I realized don't really know how where I leave off in the cycle affects my day to day life, and I was a bit worried about ending up in the dark night today as I have shit to do. I decided to see if I could power through most of another cycle.

Face pain turned into an all-encompassing infinite consiousness, super one-pointed. After it peaked it fell away naturally into the Void. This was a weird place to do a dark night but also really interesting, because it was easy to see the emptiness in everything from this vantage. The waves of sadness and fear and whatever were empty, my worries about the work I have to do today were empty. I even opened my eyes and had a visceral sense that the stuff I was seeing was empty. After some amount of this, I made it into the coarse-feeling equanimity, and then pushed through the little wall into the good equanimity. This only took about 15 minutes. I decided I might as well do a full 1.5 hour sit and hang out in the void in a very chill way for a bit. After a few minutes of this, I decided to let my mind do its natural curious thing and explore my state of mind a bit. It quickly found this spot I could put my attention that sort of turned everything off, with the more attention I put there, the more everything was turned off. This was a weird experience and it kind of felt like a cessation but murkier. I don't think my consiousness went fully away, and there was no charge-up of awareness after. It was neat though - it felt weirdly like a button I could push to put my mind to sleep in a kind of lucid way. I didn't want to trigger another cessation, and that felt kind of close, so I checked the timer, and saw I had five minutes left. I decided to ladder back up out of the jhanas, sitting in each for about 3 breaths. This was actually possible, with clear jhana factors arising for each one despite spending almost no time in them. Very neat.

Full sit was 1.5 hours today, starting at 11:30am.
Sam Gentile, modified 13 Days ago.

RE: Logan's Practice Log

Posts: 1170 Join Date: 5/4/20 Recent Posts
Logan G.
Thanks George! I had sort of forgotten that the practice I'm doing is a blend of concentration and insight - being steeped in it, I just think of it as 'practice' haha. Your prompting inspired me to think about the concentration jhanas today, and I recalled Daniel mentioning in MTCB that he found he could get his best look at cessations in the formless realms, so I decided to ladder up to infinite space and try to have a cessation there.

>> Very cool experience. I cannot  currently "ladder" through the jhanas but I went to the Formless Jhana Infinite Space 7 under a meditation my teacher did that I can't seem to duplicate.

Full sit was 1.5 hours today, starting at 11:30am.
Great efffort continues
Logan G., modified 13 Days ago.

RE: Logan's Practice Log

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Thanks Sam! I'm very pleased with how the meditation kind of runs itself today. Haha it makes me a bit nervous - the last time I found long sits easy I then smashed into the dark night and stopped practicing at all for about a month (to great detriment of my sanity and progress).

I thank Leigh Brasington's 'Right Concentration' for pretty much all of my progress with the jhanas. When I started with the jhanas I used the breath as the meditation object to springboard into the jhanas from, and it sometimes took quite a bit of time to 'get' first jhana and get the process going. I find lovingkindness meditation a significantly easier springboard into the jhanas, I think because they both involve the cultivation of feelings as the object (though in different ways).

I've mostly moved away from one-pointed concentration in my practice (and todays jhanas were commensurately less one-pointed as a result), but I think that the time I spent with concentration has had helpful effects on my current practice. The jhanas are also just quite fun and nice, though it's interesting that now that I've developed the insight part of my practice more, they've got a bit of a different edge to them.

What's the '7' mean in 'infinite space 7'? I don't know that terminology.
Logan G., modified 12 Days ago.

RE: Logan's Practice Log

Posts: 52 Join Date: 5/22/21 Recent Posts
35 minute meditation today. Slept in a bit, bad sleep, wanted to get one in before a meeting, so did a short sit. Radiated 3minutes per direction instead of 5. In the first 6 minutes, had some weird head pain that got me worrying about CT scan I never heard back about a long time ago. Started radiating compassion, got extremely focused and one-pointed for about 2 minutes. Then the center fell out and I held on to the meditation object with awareness. I feel like I've gotten better at this, sort of 'pinching' a meditation object from the periphery even though the center of awareness has gotten diffuse.

Had some non-descript sadness and agitation here and there, but generally pretty tranquil. After 10 minutes or so, got the center back, and after another 5 minutes or so had the mini-suffering wall that leads into the finer equanimity. Chilled out there for a bit, then resolved to have a fruition, but I think only got near-misses. Then got curious about mind, and started really noticing the sensation of memory creating time. This was neat and got reasonably intense. Sat with that for the rest of the sit.
Sam Gentile, modified 12 Days ago.

RE: Logan's Practice Log

Posts: 1170 Join Date: 5/4/20 Recent Posts
Thanks for stopping m,y log yesterday so I thought I would return the favor! Can you tell me more about your Radiating practiice? Is it just radiating metta in all directions? Nice sit
Logan G., modified 11 Days ago.

RE: Logan's Practice Log

Posts: 52 Join Date: 5/22/21 Recent Posts
I got into lovingkindness meditation through this Tranquil Wisdom Insight Meditation (TWIM) from the r/stream_entry subreddit:

https://www.reddit.com/r/streamentry/wiki/twim-crash-course

It starts out with just radiating metta from your heart region by wishing for yourself to be happy until you get comfortable with that, then shifting to visualizing sending metta to a spiritual friend.

That feeling of metta is supposed to (and did for me) naturally migrate up in to the top of your head. At that point, this book (The Path to Nibbana by David Johnson) has more instructions:

https://www.thepathtonibbana.com/

Currently, I start my practice by radiating metta (I can cue this with the phrase 'let all beings be happy') from the top of my head, imaging it going straight up in an expanding cone. I do this for five minutes, then radiate downward for five minutes. I then switch to radiating compassion forward and backward for five minutes each (I cue this with 'Let all beings be free from suffering'). I then radiate joy left and right five minutes each (cued with 'Let all beings be filled with joy'). I then radiate equanimity in all directions in a big sphere centered on the top of my head for the remainder of the sit ('let all beings have peace').

Properly according to the method from 'The Path To Nibbana', I should be just be radiating Equanimity in each direction 5 minutes and then in all directions, but I find that going from lovingkindness to compassion to joy to equanimity is a nice progression, and that I like the off-the-cushion effects of cultivating those feelings every day.

For me, the '6R' method from the r/stream_entry TWIM guide and 'The Path To Nibbana' was a key part of all of this working. Earlier in my practice, I used a lot of raw effort and pure concentration, and developed a lot of problems with muscle tension. Moving to lovingkindness and a practice with built-in relaxing really helped make my sits sustainable, and I credit this method with getting me out of the dark night. I also find radiating metta very quickly builds up good feelings that make access to the concentration jhanas much easier and more reliable.

If you're curious about this stuff, I highly recommend a quick look at the r/stream_entry TWIM guide!
Logan G., modified 11 Days ago.

RE: Logan's Practice Log

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1 hour sit today starting at 8:30am. Radiated lovingkindness for 10 minutes first. Immediately sit felt different than normal. Awareness had a simultaneously softer and more tangible feel to it, like a blanket. When I switched to radiating compassion after 10 minutes, it was very intense - very solid. Also, itches arose quite a bit early in the sit, almost all on the right side. Interestingly, I seemed to percieve time as moving more slowly throughout the sit - the 5 minute intervals where I switch directions felt like they took longer than normal. When I switched to radiating joy 10 minutes later, I had some shaking here and there that I haven't had since last year. Joy was also very solid. Radiating both joy and compassion resulted in several waves of overwhelming senses of those feelings.

Switched to radiating equanimity at 30 minute mark. It was difficult to do, and this feeling of compassionate joy kept welling up in my chest. I accepted that for a while, focusing on radiating euquanimity, but eventually decided to just try to radiate this compassionate joy in all directions, and it was immediately very solid and inflated my awareness into something more spacious and all encompassing, and it also relieved a sense of dissonance that trying to radiate equanimity seemed to have. Less mental objects arose as well, and it was easier to accept the ones that did. Radiated this feeling for the rest of the sit. Very interesting - sitting had a totally different character today.
Logan G., modified 11 Days ago.

RE: Logan's Practice Log

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25 minute sit starting at 9:05pm. Felt heavy and lazy and kind of listless all day today despite a good sleep, and got fed up with it this evening and decided to investigate a little. The soft and tangible blanket feeling of awareness seems to have gained substantial weight and has significant suffering associated with it. I don't know if it was always there and I only just noticed it now, or if it is a new phenomena. I also seem to be able to dial my awareness up a little higher to investigate it. Sat radiating compassion (it felt most natural) and trying to be aware of as much suffering as possible. Did this for 10 minutes or so, and had some pretty intense sadness waves. Some of the 'weight' in awareness reduced after this, but I was left feeling edgy and buzzy. Sat with this for a while, really trying to be aware of it all simultaneously. Felt like new bits of awareness opened up on the periphery, as well as 'internally' -- Started feeling like I could notices very small and discrete blips of sensation associated with narrating thoughts in awareness. Almost tingly.

Mind/Body had a bit of a tendancy to freak out. Kept bringing back the calming influence of radiating compassion. Even typing this now, my nerves all feel a bit jangled. As this happened, the field of awareness started to take on a more homogeneous feeling, so that the sense-door a given sensation originated from started feeling a bit mixed up and undifferentiated, and the sense of sensations having a special location in awareness started to dissolve a bit.

Now, I don't really feel lazy anymore, more restless and aversive.
Logan G., modified 10 Days ago.

RE: Logan's Practice Log

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1.5 hour sit today. Jumped straight to radiating compassion today because lovingkindness was not working. Radiated that for the first 20 minutes. Sit was all over the place today. Had walls of suffering to smash through, some feeling sick for a bit, some sadness. A couple periods of weird intensity that lasted a minute or two each. At about twenty minutes in, switched to radiating joy. Had this absolute brick of tension/pressure directly behind my eyes and bridge of nose, really wanted to get away from it.

After a while, noticed that a ton of suffering was coming from wanting things to be different than they were, and started to observe that suffering. At 30 minutes into the sit, started radiating equanimity and kept looking at that 'wanting things to be different' suffering. In particular, noticed that I was feeling lost with regard to the whole POI progression and was wanting to know where I was. Accepted these feelings. Had some more intense moments that were hard to pin down, until I had a particularly intense one that left things a bit clearer after. Eye pressure remained, but the rest of suffering tuned down and got calmer. Tried to note whenever I felt like I was building up too much effort and relax that. Kept attention on the feeling of wanting the eye pressure to go away. Mind got pretty quiet. Around 50 minutes into the sit, noticed that 'Self' sensations come packaged with the suffering, which kind of makes sense - if there's not a self, who suffers? Suffering must be related to the self, because there can't be any craving/aversion without self to crave things or be averse to them. Without the self, there's just stuff happening in awareness.

Bell rang, and decided to sit with this for another half hour. Had this sudden feeling that I could be happy anywhere. Have been in a period transition in life, deciding where to live, what career path to take, etcetera, and realized that this has been a stress I've been holding on to, and this feeling came with an intense feeling of relief. Accepted these thoughts and feelings and continued to sit, noticing the self sensations arising as part of the suffering. Awareness really opened up, and I started observing these self sensations arising with each blink of awareness, as part of the suffering that chains together moments of awareness. Accepted them, relaxed and kept observing. Mind got very quiet. Flickering of awareness felt like it slowed down and sped up a few times. Had some dreamyness and some things that felt like were approaching cessations but didn't quite get there.
George S, modified 10 Days ago.

RE: Logan's Practice Log

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Logan G.
After a while, noticed that a ton of suffering was coming from wanting things to be different than they were, and started to observe that suffering. At 30 minutes into the sit, started radiating equanimity and kept looking at that 'wanting things to be different' suffering. In particular, noticed that I was feeling lost with regard to the whole POI progression and was wanting to know where I was. Accepted these feelings. Had some more intense moments that were hard to pin down, until I had a particularly intense one that left things a bit clearer after. Eye pressure remained, but the rest of suffering tuned down and got calmer. Tried to note whenever I felt like I was building up too much effort and relax that. Kept attention on the feeling of wanting the eye pressure to go away. Mind got pretty quiet. Around 50 minutes into the sit, noticed that 'Self' sensations come packaged with the suffering, which kind of makes sense - if there's not a self, who suffers? Suffering must be related to the self, because there can't be any craving/aversion without self to crave things or be averse to them. Without the self, there's just stuff happening in awareness. 

Very astute. You could almost say that self and craving/aversion and suffering are just different ways of describing the same thing! Impermanence is the central characteristic of reality which ties them all together - stuff is always changing, so you can't prevent pleasant stuff from passing and unpleasant stuff from arising. But the problem also contains its own solution, because without craving/aversion there is no pleasant/unpleasant, it's just neutral stuff happening in awareness like you say. And that's just another way of describing equanimity, or accepting things as they are. This is the core of the dharma. When there is equanimity/acceptance there is no problem, and when there is not equanimity then there must be some element of craving/aversion or ignoring going on and the task is simply to track it down. A lot of people say 'but how do I get rid of the craving?' (aversion to craving!) but once you see how the craving leads directly to the suffering then it tends to fall away by itself. The path basically consists in working with this same dynamic at progressively deeper levels - starting with simple sensations, then with emotions (more complex bundles of sensations), behaviors, world views, psychological characteristics, and finally with the craving for awakening itself (how can it possibly be something we don't have which we want?!)
Logan G., modified 9 Days ago.

RE: Logan's Practice Log

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George S:
You could almost say that self and craving/aversion and suffering are just different ways of describing the same thing!


That makes a lot of sense to me. From investigation, I'm pretty confident that self comes from suffering, but I'm not totally confident yet that the sense of self *only* comes from suffering. I guess I also should say that I feel like there's a different between a rational notion of a literal 'me' shaped object moving around the world, and the 'I exist' sensation, and the latter is what I mean by 'self'.

I guess I'm curious if you think the 'I exist' sensation is exactly suffering, or at least is perfectly correlated with suffering?

George S:
A lot of people say 'but how do I get rid of the craving?' (aversion to craving!) but once you see how the craving leads directly to the suffering then it tends to fall away by itself.


I think I was fortunate to notice that craving and aversion are both sort of 'mental pressures' early on in my progression, and so I haven't had trouble with the notion of getting rid of craving, because the pressure itself (whether it's 'more of this please' or 'less of this please') is ultimately unsatisfying and unsatisfyable. I've had this intuition that the self is the empty thing that the mental pressure of aversion/craving is exerted on, nothing more and nothing less, but I guess I haven't been able to look closely enough to feel 100% confident in that.

I guess I will note that in times where I've had almost no aversion/craving, the self seems to have evaporated, though paradoxically any investigation of this involves a sort of 'craving to know' that brings it back a tiny bit haha.

George S:
A lot of people say 'but how do I get rid of the craving?' (aversion to craving!) but once you see how the craving leads directly to the suffering then it tends to fall away by itself.


I think I've transitioned from working on sensations to working on emotions and mental patterns now, which is nice to have figured out. I feel a bit more like I know kind of what I'm doing when I sit again.
George S, modified 9 Days ago.

RE: Logan's Practice Log

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I guess I'm curious if you think the 'I exist' sensation is exactly suffering, or at least is perfectly correlated with suffering?

In a nutshell yes! You can't avoid pain (or loss of pleasure) but the suffering is optional - 'this sucks, I suck, my life sucks, why can't I be happy etc.' This kind of suffering is predicated on the existence of some kind of continuous stable central reference point 'I'. The big fear is - won't my life fall apart without this centre point? But the centre point is just another set of continuously changing sensations and associated thoughts, or like you say some kind of empty pressure. The big surprise is that you can slowly deflate this pressure and realize that life is basically already taking care of itself. The suffering is an unnecessary overlay, or as the Arrow Sutta says stabbing yourself with a second arrow.

Another surprising thing is that as your resistance to pain decreases then you tend to feel more of it, both your own repressed pain as well as that of others. Hence the classic Bill Hamilton quip 'suffering less, noticing it more'. But it's still a much better way to be ... and it's not like you have a choice anyway :-)

I guess I will note that in times where I've had almost no aversion/craving, the self seems to have evaporated, though paradoxically any investigation of this involves a sort of 'craving to know' that brings it back a tiny bit haha.

Looking ahead a bit, this is the central paradox of awakening - what you are seeking is already right here, so any attempt to find it merely obscures it from you!
Logan G., modified 8 Days ago.

RE: Logan's Practice Log

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George S:
The suffering is an unnecessary overlay, or as the Arrow Sutta says stabbing yourself with a second arrow.


Thanks - this is a helpful seed for my practice right now.

George S:
Another surprising thing is that as your resistance to pain decreases then you tend to feel more of it, both your own repressed pain as well as that of others.


Recently, I feel like I've gotten a better look some of the patterns that cause trouble for me in day to day life. After seeing you and some others talk about 'Wake Up To Your Life', I've started reading through it myself. I've realized that I've developed some problematic patterns around aversion to work due essentially to burnout (probably that itself due to unrealistic expectations or something). Funnily enough, even though I've started to develop some mental distance from these patterns, they seem to run regardless of whether I identify with them or not haha.

I'm curious about your experiences with the meditations in Chapters 5 and 6 (Stuff on dismantling patterns and reactive emotions). I seem to recall you mentioning them in some post somewhere. If I'm recalling correctly, and you've spent some time with those and like what you got out of them, did you replace your regular practice with them, or do them as an additional meditation? I'm also curious if you followed the practices and timelines pretty exactly as spelled out in the book or somewhat modified them to fit your needs better. Also, if you've already described some of this somewhere in another post, just point me over there rather than re-hashing!

Thank you!
George S, modified 7 Days ago.

RE: Logan's Practice Log

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Sure. I started doing them around third path when reactivity moved into focus as my main issue. Insight and samatha had essentially cured my depression and dissolved what I used to think of as my "major life problems", but I was struck by how aversive the basic texture of my day to day experience still was. It was less dramatic but seemed more pervasive than when I had started meditating, because I was no longer able to hide out in fantasies about the future!

I didn't follow the timeline in the book, which was to spend weeks on each realm and element. I just read through chapters 5 and 6 in a few weeks and started identifying the patterns in my life as I went. These two articles were really helpful as a summary as well:

http://www.aroencyclopaedia.org/shared/text/r/realms_ar_eng.php

http://aroencyclopaedia.org/shared/text/e/emotions_ar_eng.php

It quickly became my main practice for a few months because it was so effective. I made my own notes and tables and worked off those. There's always room for interpretation, but the main thing is you are focusing on your own reactivity patterns (as a felt experience in the body) and seeing how they basically run your life.
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Funnily enough, even though I've started to develop some mental distance from these patterns, they seem to run regardless of whether I identify with them or not haha.

Yeah this is interesting. I had grokked not-self but still found myself acting in selfish ways! I came to see that the patterns basically have a life of their own and run even if there's "nobody home". They are like successful evolutionary strategies which delivered some short-term survival benefits with long-term mental health costs, and they keep competing for survival even when they are no longer needed.

The realms are pretty easy to identify. Burnout at work could be animal realm. The unrealistic expectations could be titan realm (competition). There could be some hungry ghost stuff there as well (using work to fill a hole). The harder part is identifying and working with the elemental reaction because it happens so fast and instintively. How do you feel in your body when you think of these unrealistic expectations?​​​​​​​ It could be earth element, where you seek to cultivate solidity and power as a response to feeling insubstantial or worthless. When conflicts arise (hell realm) it's usually as a result of water element reaction (feeling threatened by someome else's energy and trying to disperse it with your own). Hungry ghost is often driven by fire element (comsuming to generate heat and avoid loneliness).

These are just some ideas, your situation is your own, the important thing is to get familiar with your own reactivity patterns. Each element has a "liberated" form where you experience it without reacting instinctively. That's what you aim to cultivate in meditation and then in daily life. I would say just work with it when you feel the need due to reactivity, otherwise it's just an academic exercise. It's also a bit simplistic, life is more complicated and nuanced and there's always a bit of everything going on, but for major reactivity it's an amazingly effective tool.

​​​​​​​The other interesting thing is how it changed my relationship to meditation itself. On the first half of the path meditation fixes so many problems that if you're not careful you can become attached to it and it actually becomes the main barrier to awakening. This is the classic "golden chains", the idea that there is some meditative state which if you can only develop deeply and continuously enough then you will attain liberation. Deep down somewhere I probably harbored the fantasy that nirvana was some kind of Buddhist heaven, a permanent mental state where my life would be radically different. But with realms practice I came to see that the deep, blissful, peaceful meditative states are just another temporary realm within samsara (god realm). I could be blissed out one minute and getting angry the next, and the craving to remain in god realm was making it worse.

Normally we think of heaven as being *better* than hell. But with realms you start to see that no one state is intrinsically better or worse than any other. Each realm contains the seeds of its own demise. God realm always runs out of energy eventually and then you are either back in titan realm trying to get back what you've lost or else in hell realm with everyone against you because you were so detached (classic fallen guru situation on the big scale). Actually it's exactly attachment to god realm which makes the fall harder, and it's aversion to hell realm which causes you to get stuck there longer. With a pure unreactive experience of anger you can pass through hell in a matter of seconds where you would have reacted and got stuck for days before.

Once you start to level out your experience in this way then samsara becomes much smoother, the realms are less dramatic and you end up spending more time beteeen realms. The question starts to arise 'if life is constant cycling between realms, then where is nirvana in all of this?' The answer to that question is truly the biggest suprise of all ... emoticon

You can tell I'm a bit of a realms enthusiast. I think it's a great tool which can save you a lot of grief down the path and give you some fundamental insights into the workings of samsara.
Logan G., modified 6 Days ago.

RE: Logan's Practice Log

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Ok, thank you for all of the information! Off the cushion, I'm going to start trying to pick apart some of my own patterns and add awareness of which realms I'm ending up in whenever I can.

They are like successful evolutionary strategies which delivered some short-term survival benefits with long-term mental health costs, and they keep competing for survival even when they are no longer needed.


Totally - in the last few months it's become apparent how much energy I just spend fighting with myself. I can see how it would make sense for the brain to develop an aversion to working on goals with long term effects that don't look like they're 'paying off', even if the rational part of my brain still thinks its a good idea and wants to keep working on them. I'd really like to get to the bottom of it all - at various points in my life, I've had a lot of happiness come from making stuff, so the aversion to that has been really hard sometimes. Though, the meditation has also brought to light my dependence on that happiness, so I suspect the ultimate unravelling of it all will be a bit complicated. I suspect that for the burnout problems (which is like a 10 year oscillating problem) I may need to dedicate some sits to triggering the pattern deliberately and then observing it.
George S, modified 7 Days ago.

RE: Logan's Practice Log

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I may need to dedicate some sits to triggering the pattern deliberately and then observing it.

That's a powerful practice :-)
Logan G., modified 9 Days ago.

RE: Logan's Practice Log

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Terrible sleep last night, body was totally buzzing/ringing with energy in the head/face region and couldn't get to sleep. 1.5 hour sit today starting at 10:30. Radiated lovingkindness 10 minutes, had some intense waves, nothing too crazy. Occaisonally felt like it was trying to turn into compassion, but kept it stable in lovingkindness. Then radiated 10 minutes compassion. Started feeling like awareness was getting broader inward. Radiated 10 minutes joy, and started really getting the sense of thoughts/intentions as distinct mental objects and started to investigate the suffering around them, especially thoughts about where I am in POI and thoughts regarding that I shouldn't be as affected by sensations as I am. Was hit by this feeling of 'What the fuck have I been doing to myself' when attention started to really register the suffering associated with thoughts.

At the 30 minute mark, started radiating equanimity in all directions. Kept investigating the suffering associated with thoughts. Gradually started to get the sense that this is the right thing to be doing right now. Generally drifted toward more and more equanimity over the next hour. Whereas previously equanimity seemed to have three distinct stages, currently it feels like a zillion little stages. Investigated the thoughts around this and examined their suffering. Had some stomach discomfort and bloating feelings today that kept pushing their way into conciousness. Rather than investigate the direct sensations and their associated aversion, examined the thought loop that set up around these sensations, like 'I wish this would go away', or 'I should be able to reduce this suffering', or 'these sensations are keeping me from developing higher equanimity', or just the reverberation of those sensations in memory, and observed the suffering in these thoughts.

Gradually, mind became very quiet. Occaisonally had some dreamyness. Had some thoughts about whether my mind will change so much through meditation that I will end up not being useful to the world because I will have no drive to fix things. Kept investigating all thoughts and their associated suffering. Good sit.
Sam Gentile, modified 9 Days ago.

RE: Logan's Practice Log

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Yes, sounds like a good sit
Logan G., modified 8 Days ago.

RE: Logan's Practice Log

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1.5 hour sit today starting at 1:00pm. Radiated 10 minutes lovingkindness, had some mind wandering. Radiated 10 minutes compassion, had a hard time make the compassion happen at first, and never felt super bright and clear. Radiated 10 minutes joy, tiny mind wander in there somewhere, mostly pretty solid.

Radiated equanimity for rest of the sit. Really worked on investigating the intrinsic suffering of the feeling of thinking and any emotions. Gradually revealed more and more of this suffering. When the bell rang at an hour in, felt like I was getting close to seeing something, so kept sitting. Started feeling like there was suffering everywhere I turned, and felt a bit overwhelmed. Previously, this kind of investigation has eventually caused most of the suffering to drop away and equanimity to arise. Instead, it felt like I was just revealing more and more suffering around every corner. Everywhere 'I' looked, there was more suffering. Suddenly something clicked, and I realized that I was essentially creating the suffering by looking for it. I quit looking and immediately found profound relief.

It felt a bit like someone was turning the lights on and off repeatedly in my mind for a bit. Not quite a cessation of thought, more just super-dimmed thought. I settled into this 'not-looking' mode, and experimented with trying to expand it into my awareness wherever suffering arose. Things dimmed out, and then there was a little twist-away of reality, and then my mind turned back on and felt very bright and calm. Kind of felt like the first time I had what I think was a cessation. Kept investigating what it means to have things in awareness without 'I' getting involved and creating suffering for the rest of the sit. Had some very interesting mind-states that are a bit hard to describe. Kind of an experience of turning off a bunch of my perceptions and thoughts but still being conscious, but not in a sleep-related way. As I type this, I feel oddly distinct from my thoughts, like I'm watching them show up. Kind of weird. I definitely feel weird, almost like I'm making this up. I think I need to sit with this a bit before I can explain it better.
Logan G., modified 7 Days ago.

RE: Logan's Practice Log

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1 hour sit, starting at 6:30. Been fasting for a bit over 24 hours right now, and spent the day out in the sun. Made my mind very slow. First 20 minutes really felt like meditating through mollasses. Had some mild waves of intensity in there, but overall meditation seemed far-off and mind wandered a fair bit. Things came together a bit better while radiating joy for 10 minutes at 20 minutes in, attention stabilized and clarity increased. Then radiated equanimity for 30 minutes. Had some pretty quiet mind, but definitely also some dullness. At the most clear point, resolved to have a cessation, and maybe did? It was a bit obscured. Had several of these ambiguous things in a row, then got thrown into some intense energy waves, then back into the mollasses.
Sam Gentile, modified 6 Days ago.

RE: Logan's Practice Log

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What kind of cessation do you think you had? I think you would know as I did when I attained SE. It was very noticable.
Logan G., modified 6 Days ago.

RE: Logan's Practice Log

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These felt like review cessations - a little blip, but without being followed by much of the charging-up experience I associate with really getting somewhere.
Sam Gentile, modified 6 Days ago.

RE: Logan's Practice Log

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ok
Logan G., modified 6 Days ago.

RE: Logan's Practice Log

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1.5 hour sit today. Radiated lovingkindness for 10 minutes, worked well, mind wandered a little. Throat discomfort and pressure behind eyes. Then radiated compassion 10 minutes. Had a hard time finding it, more substantial mind wandering here, kept at it. Near 20 minutes in got pretty strong and bright. Radiated joy 10 minutes, very strong for the first five minutes, then fell off and got a bit murkier. Then radiated equanimity for half an hour.

Was a bit hard to turn down the joy for a bit, but got there. I recall from 'Our Pristine Mind', the following (paraphrased from memory - no warranty on this) practice:

Don't think about the past
Don't anticipate the future
Abide in the present
Leave your mind alone

That last 'Leave your mind alone' has really stuck with me as something to try to understand better, and I think I made some good progress with that today. I've started to get a sense of when I'm sticking some self into something and amplifying the suffering by identifying with it, and I think I'm starting figuring out how to leave my mind alone and not stick all that self into whatever is arising. It's a good cue for what settled in a couple of sits ago when I realized that there was suffering around every corner because 'I' was sticking my 'me' into every corner. It's not that I'm trying to just ignore my experience, I'm just trying to leave it alone.

Just sitting and 'leaving my mind alone' very rapidly got me into a day-dreamy equanimity. Resolved to have some cessations in there and have a look at them. They're such an interesting experience - the mind seems to fade out in a way that doesn't even feel especially out of the ordinary, and it's only in retrospect that it faded out all the way. Had multiple in a row, then the timer went off. Decided to sit for another half an hour and examine a reaction chain I've been having trouble with.

Repeatedly visualized beginning a new creative project and pushing through the inevitable grunt-work associated with these things, and immediately had a visceral reaction centered on the throat - I think that's an air element reaction. Had this feeling that I shouldn't be doing this, that I should be busy working on something important. Diffused the air reaction by spreading it throughout my whole body like I would when soaking in first jhana (basically trying to do the 'transmuting' thing). Ran the pattern again. Noticed then an underlying fire element - a real craving to 'do something important'. Diffused these two reactions. Ran it again. Diffused again. Then ran it again, and noticed a serious brick behind my eyes . Feeling really rigid about something around all of this. I think the pattern imperative here is "I'm wasting time - I should be doing something important with my life."

This is sort of a funny reaction really, because the pattern itself has had an enormous effect on my ability to do many things, and the net effect is that I've done substantially less stuff with the potential to be helpful because I've been paralyzed by this pattern so many times.
Sam Gentile, modified 4 Days ago.

RE: Logan's Practice Log

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That last 'Leave your mind alone' has really stuck with me as something to try to understand better, and I think I made some good progress with that today. I've started to get a sense of when I'm sticking some self into something and amplifying the suffering by identifying with it, and I think I'm starting figuring out how to leave my mind alone and not stick all that self into whatever is arising. It's a good cue for what settled in a couple of sits ago when I realized that there was suffering around every corner because 'I' was sticking my 'me' into every corner. It's not that I'm trying to just ignore my experience, I'm just trying to leave it alone.

I'm pretty much in the same place with Dzogchen, I think its been hard for me to leave my mind alone as one does in the non meditation of Dzogchen and other methodologies. But yah, You don't want to fuck with it. Just sit resting in natural awareness. Don't go striving to changing the moment. Good thinking.

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