RE: AKD Daily Log #1

AKD, modified 4 Months ago.

AKD Daily Log #1

Posts: 96 Join Date: 1/20/21 Recent Posts
Hello, I just wanted to start a log on here to keep me accountable and practicing daily. The goal for this log is to jot down a brief report after each sit or once daily as life allows. This log is more about helping me to stay consistent than anything else, but advice or pointers are always welcome and appreciated.

At the moment, I am practicing with Wake Up To Your Life by Ken McLeod; practicing what he describes as 'resting in attention with the breath' during my formal sits. I am currently working through the first part of the book that focusses on attentional development. Eventually, I'd like to move on to the later exercises in the book and work through them in order. I am very interested in learning about and working with my belief structures and patterns of reactivity that are limiting my lived experience.

Other than that, I incorporate noting into my sits when the mind is busy and I also practice Metta sporadically so those practices will show up in this log as well.

My long term goal is to become more self-aware, mature, less needy, and basically sane. I'm hoping consistent practice can help facilitate that sort of growth.

Thank you for reading. 
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RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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2/10/2021 - Evening sit - 35 minutes

A fairly standard sit for where I am - there was plenty of distraction and I fell into mind wandering quite often. There was a base level of contraction in the abdomen and discomfort in certain areas of the body. The aforementioned contraction in the abdomen would wax and wane in relation to mental proliferation and reactivity (more contraction associated with more mental proliferation). There were uncomfortable pressures in the head that contributed to an overall sense of unease and disatisfaction with being present in the body - although these pressures were present before the sit and are present now. When I caught myself coming out of mind wandering, I'd take stock of the body an often times my facial muscles were pulled into a grimace of some sort. Mental proliferation took the form of various mental images, memories, practice thoughts, worries, songs, random nonsense, etc.

The moments after coming out of mind wandering are interesting as I take stock of the body and realize the posture is not quite right: certain muscles in the back, shoulders, and face need to be released. I'd set the gentle intention to relax into the breath until carried off again.

There wasn't much in the way of physical or mental relaxation in this sit, but it was an interesting one. At some point, I sorta considered why there was so much aversion to sitting simply at rest which spurred some investigation into those uncomfortable mental and physical experiences that kept pulling me off.

Also, I realized around that same point that I was just glossing over the breath - I was aware that I was breathing in or out, but there was wasn't really a connection to the actual sensations associated with that. So I tried to explore that a bit as well. 
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RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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2/11/2021 - Lunch break sit - 30 minutes

Was quite drowsy during this sit, but there was some clarity that was aware of drowsiness so it wasn't a huge issue. The mind was busy, but I was able to hold thoughts in awareness for a period of time (along side the breath) until I got lost in mind wandering.

Upon waking from mind wandering, I'd check my body and mental state while resting into the breath again. Although I got lost rather often, I didn't really beat myself up over it which was nice. Just returned to the breath without fuss. 

Overall, a sense of calm, ease, and comfort dominated this session. A bit of impatience arose in the final minutes, but I could have sat a while longer if I didn't have to get back to work. 
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RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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2/12/2021 - Evening sit - 45 minutes

This sit was marked by reasonably good concentration/continuity of attention, but awareness was volatile.

The first 20 or so minutes, I was with the breath to varying degrees. Attention focused on the nose tip, sometimes the physical sensations of moving air were obvious, and sometimes just the general knowing of the in-breath/out-breath was dominant. The first 5-10 minutes felt very 'careful' - as if I was slowly reading a paragraph to catch any typos. Each breath was experienced alongside subtle distractions such as mental images, expectations, narrative thoughts, sounds, other physical sensations, etc. Everytime the subtle distractions were noticed, a micro-intention was set to go back to the breath. At some point this started to become automatic and focus on the breath was more effortless. 

I reached a point where the outer world of sensory input (and my body) started to attenuate. Thought content was 'turned up in volume' as well as the sensations of the breath. Eventually, awareness started to fade - without the clarity, catching distractions was basically impossible. The energy of the mind that had been focused on the breath started to feed into thought loops.

At that point, the session became difficult. More distraction and restlessness and boredom. I spent more time trying to play around with opening awareness/clarity so as to catch hindrances. I was reading WUTYL before my sit and there was a pointer in there was a quote in there that I was able to use - "Boredom is excess attention with insufficient intention." I couldd see how the energy of attention was flowing into craving, aversion, thought loops, etc. so I'd set the intention to get interested in the details of the breath and the boredom would dissolve in moments which is neat. The issue is that attention was inconsistent, interest with the details of the breath would fade, and so I'd fall back into distraction and then boredom/impatience. I can see how boredom and impatience are forms of reactivity though - they pop up in response to a lack of interest and engagement with the object of the moment. I'm wondering what the right balance is here - between repressing boredom by going back to the breath vs. dwelling in boredom to understand/process it more fully. I'll just have to experiment and see. 
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RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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2/13/2021 - Evening sit - 10-15 minutes

I was worn out yesterday and decided to give myself a day off from meditating. I still wanted to sit for a little while, just to keep up some continuity. The sit was dreamy and lazy.
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RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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2/14/2021 - Evening sit - 45 minutes

I started this sit with 15 minutes of Metta. The Metta was quite lovely, the body became settled, the mood was one of benevolence, and the mind was quite centered on the task.

I switched to resting in attention with the breath for the last 30 minutes of the sit. Right away, breath meditation put an end to the positive mindstates from the Metta. Plenty of mental content arose, and the body became contracted. Impatience and boredom contributed to twitching muscles in the face & feet, and uncomfortable pressures in the abdomen, throat, & head. After a while of getting knocked around, the mind started to stabilize on the breath with awaress of the other content that was churning away in the background. I was excited to sit in a state of impatience and boredom while being present to it - not tuning out the unpleasantness. I think some equanimity was developing at that point as the the contraction/pressure/thought loops/etc. were still playing out, but it wasn't a problem. 
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RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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2/15/2021 - Morning sit - 45 minutes

I did not sleep well last night, so drowsiness/dullness were the largest hindrances.

I started with 20 minutes of Metta. Metta was nice - I was able to tap into beneficial mindstates of appreciation and benevolence. I notice how for certain people, the Metta flows naturally. For more difficult people, I can see the 'wall' the mind wants to put up - obviously it's a form of reactivity, a form of limiting. Between repeating the Metta phrases, there is a brief moment where the mind considers who will be the next recipient of Metta - in that moment I can see whether I want to skip someone or not. This decision making process is so rapid and automatic (fraction of a second), but I try to pick the person that I want to avoid so as to get in touch with any aversion to wishing them well. For these people I'd rather avoid, sometimes the well wishing is half-hearted, but I try to take stock of it and continue. 
At the very beiginning of the Metta session I had trouble focussing, then concentration grew and I was centered on the task, and the final 2 minutes of Metta, things started to fall apart as drowsiness took over.

Similar to yesterday, as soon as I switched to mindfulness of breathing, various hindrances arose - disinterest, impatience, greater dullness, plenty of distracting thought content. It was interesting to toggle between states of more open awareness and more constrained awareness (while resting in the breath). If awareness is too open, the mind slides off the breath, but if awareness is too narrow, then distractions/hindrances aren't noticed in time to make fine adjustments. Drowsiness/dullness gave me the opportunity to experiment with sitting up a bit straighter and bringing attention to the fine details of the breath without collapsing awareness. 
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2/15/2021 - Evening sit - 45 minutes

Started with 15 minutes of Metta and finished with 30 minutes of mindfulness of the breath. There seems to be a pattern emerging based on the last few sits: the Metta is always nice and the mind stays on task, but the hindrances strike when switching to the breath meditation.

Tonight's biggest hindrance was desire: I seemed to have inhabited some Hungry Ghost realm. I sat through endless mental images of the object of craving, pleading with myself not to act on the craving, bargaining, planning, fear, annoyance, impatience, contraction, glorifying the object of craving, etc. It was a real mess, super exhausting - I really wish I didn't have to do this dance.

Eventually the desire sorta disappeared and then dullness became the dominant hindrance. I started skirting the line between dozing and wakefulness - mental imagery became vivid, narrative thoughts became louder. The breath was still in awareness during these points, but more as a concept (in breath/out breath) and less the physical sensations. After sitting through dullness and dozing a bit, the mind was slightly refreshed and with the extra energy, it went back to craving. All pretty funny. 

The sit ended in a state of exhaustion and impatience, but it's promising to be sitting through the midst of so much reactivity (hindrances) and just gently going back to the breath when coming out of mind wandering. Getting in touch with the mind/reality no matter how it presents itself in the moment. 
George S, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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AKD

There seems to be a pattern emerging based on the last few sits: the Metta is always nice and the mind stays on task, but the hindrances strike when switching to the breath meditation.

Maybe try sending more metta towards yourself?
AKD, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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Hello George, thank you for the tip! I send plenty of Metta to myself during my sits. The quote above isn't really a complaint: I simply jotted that observation here as an interesting pattern that happens almost instantaneously when switching from one practice to the next. Currently, I am not adverse to the hindrances in a way that seeks to place blame on myself; put another way, I don't consider the hindrances (or other forms of reactivity that arise) to be personal failings/shortcomings and so I am not beating myself up if they arise. Honestly, I'm fully okay with getting in touch with hindrances and reactivity so that I can bring awareness to them and learn from them. As the saying goes, "Smooth seas don't make good sailors." 

Of course, this relaxed attitude is subject to change. 
George S, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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Sounds good. I got a lot out of the exercises in WUTYL in the chapters on realms and elements. 
AKD, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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2/16/2021 - Evening sit - 40 minutes

This evening I prefered to skip the Metta and do just straight breath meditation. The sit was a bit of a snooze fest. There isn't much to say beyond the fact that I would doze off and awareness of the breath would slowly fade as dreams took over. I'd wake up, return to the breath, and doze off again. Rinse and repeat. There was some aversion to trying to stay awake, and a natural level of impatience arose as I wanted to just take a nap instead. No real frustration associated with falling off the horse though.
AKD, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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2/17/2021 - Evening sit - 60ish minutes

Tonight I did a series of guided meditations that were part of a larger dharma talk given by Ken McLeod: https://unfetteredmind.org/mountain-sea-and-sky/

The dharma talk unpacks the backdoor, pith instruction that comes from Tibetan mountain hermits: 

Body like a mountain.
Breath like the wind.
Mind like the sky.


In this case, Ken decides use the the metaphor of sea waves to describe the breath instead of the wind which is traditional. The idea behind describing the body, breath, and mind in these ways helps the practitioner to intuitively grasp and align those aspects of their experience in a way that promotes stability, naturalness, openess. The practitioner can return to what is already there and rest.
AKD, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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2/18/2021 - Evening sit - 60 minutes

Started with 15 minutes of Metta before switching to resting in attention with the breath. 

The Metta was nice as usual. I had been in a somewhat frustrated mood today, imagining myself getting into altercations with people that I'm not even in contact with. So during the Metta, I gravitated towards wishing those difficult folks plenty of Metta. When I sort of 'locked on' to a person while repeating the Metta phrase, there was this slight bit of energy or 'center of experience' located directly behind where the ribcage converges and the sternum starts (xiphoid process).

When switching to breath, the quality of attention changed - it opened up, but became less stable. If I had to describe this portion of the sit it was mostly sitting through drowsiness, craving, and various levels of uncomfortable physical contraction. Even now, my throat and abdomen feel phsyically constricted and I have a bit of a headache. Although the sit was difficult, I am very encouraged to continue because I was able to keep the breath in attention (without forcing it) and be present to the hindrances as they played out - the mind did wander into distraction a few times. It wasn't necessarily super restful, but I set gentle intentions to try and release a little phsyical or mental tension where possible. Towards the end of the sit, the overall reactivity started to settle down and I was surprised when the bell rang. 
AKD, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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2/19/2021 - Evening sit - 50 minutes

Started with 15 minutes of Metta and the rest was breath meditation. Not alot to write down here. It was a very sleepy sit and there wasn't a whole lot of motivation. Concentration was not super great and I fell into mind wandering quite often. Awareness also kept collapsing. Not discouraged though! 
AKD, modified 4 Months ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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2/20/2021 - Morning sit - 45 minutes

Skipped the Metta this morning in favor of breath meditation. The two most prominent hindrances were dullness & doubt. Before the sit, an unwillingness to sit had me procrastinating.

The first half of the session was relatively chilled out. I'd intend to rest with the breath while allowing things in background awarenss to play out. I'd check in on posture sporadically and make adjustments where appropriate. After a while, momentum and motivation wobbled: plenty of mind wandering occured anytime awareness collapsed. A large part of the mind wandering was doubt related to practice and the expected outcomes of working with certain traditions or teachers. I set the gentle intention to allow the doubts to play out, feeling the contraction and the aversion alongside the breath. The session ended in this state where the mind was busy, but overall I was drowsy and dull as well.

I am having some issues remembering to set intentions to energize or rest when the mind is dull or busy - this is an area where I will have to experiment. It's just slightly confusing since it often seems dullness and business are experienced together, but most teachers present these as opposite ends of a spectrum: either the mind is dull, or it is busy. 
AKD, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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2/21/2021 - Note

I sat for maybe 5-10 minutes today. A day off here or there is alright.

That said, lately I have also been doing a lot of off cushion practice and trying to bring my life into practice. I am still working to increase formal practice time however. Ideally, formal practice would run 90-120 minutes a day so I hope to work up to that as long as it is productive - sometimes the mind doesn't want to play along or life gets in the way. 

Lastly, after looking around a bit, I've found a mentor/teacher of sorts who is a student of one of Ken McLeod's closest pupils (so 2 degrees of freedom). This individual has been participating in a teacher program that Ken himself apparently oversees, although he is no longer teaching. We will chat maybe once a month as needed, and I can reach out to them if I have questions about the specific exercises in "Wake Up To Your Life".

On one hand, I am excited to work on my reactivity and to cultivate presence - on the other hand, I got into this stuff in the first place because of Daniel's descriptions of the awakened 'mode' with its various aspects/criteria (as Daniel defines them in this thread). Ken doesn't talk about these perceptual aspects of his experience in the few talks I have listened to. I am sure that many of these practices lead to the same or similar place (since these methods all work with attentional development and faculties of awareness) and many people can report the Progress of Insight no matter what technique they are practice. However, doubts remain.
I do like the way Ken brings the practice to bear on the way we live our lives, which to me is very practical. I want a bit of each I guess: the cool perceptual shifts/understandings that reduce suffering, and to bring my life into my practice so as to be present to all that occurs and be basically sane. 
George S, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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You could say that realms/elements/reactivity practice is shifting attention from direct sensate experience down towards underlying psychological strata. In my experience that's where most of the suffering is generated, although it can take a while to accept that. emoticon
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RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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Yeah, I sorta realized noting wasn't doing it for me anymore as I had trouble stepping back to see reactive patterns. This has less to do with methods and more to do with my lack of understanding - a person can use noting to pick up on this sort of thing too. I just found it helpful to try a new practice in a new framework for that reason you outline above!
AKD, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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2/22/2021 - Evening sit - 60 minutes

A fairly difficult sit. I practiced just the resting on the breath.

There was plenty of mind wandering; slight frustration and doubt seeped in in relation to that. I spent most of the sit in a state of planning and worry/dread in relationship to both professional and personal deadlines that are coming up. I knew on some level that all of that struggle was mind made, but I just have to watch it play out and try to keep coming back to the breath.

The mind was slightly dull, the throat was constricted, the abodomen was contracted, and there was a lot of pressure in the head. I would often check to see if I could release some of this tension, but to no avail (I really don't think I was striving in a way that would cause these physical discomforts). I notice lately that in the evenings, there are many physical sorts of contractions in the body and mind.

Towards the end of the sit, some level of attention was regained and awareness opened up in a way that was very natural, although the unpleasantness was still playing out to some degree. What gets me is that within moments of finishing the session, most of the contraction and gross feelings just stopped. Very interesting. 
AKD, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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2/23/2021 - Morning sit - 60 minutes

Started with 15 minutes of Metta before switching to resting in attention with the breath. Metta did not come as easy this morning - the main flavors were those of jealousy and guilt, although friendliness was available at points. 

The breath meditation was interesting in that there was a lot of emotional content in the form of fear, dread, guilt, shame, and quite a bit sadness tied to thought loops/frustrations about career, relationships, and death. It was hard to keep breath in awareness as the fantasies related to prematurely dying played out. I just got to the part in "Wake Up To Your Life" in which impermanence and death are contemplated, but I still haven't read any of the meditation instructions as I want to continue to cultivate attention for another few weeks - this might be a good decision based on the difficulty that arose this morning.

The last 5 or so minutes of the session, all of the reactivity and contraction started to attentuate: the body felt settled and the awareness opened up. A sense of ease was available with a small bit of impatience to start my work day.  


​​​​​​​2/23/2021 - Evening sit - 30 minutes

Just a session of mindfulness of breathing. Some anger and reactivity bubbled up, but I was really gentle about returning to the breath. Towards the end, relaxation grew, things got sort of dull, but there was a reasonable amount of awareness.

About to sit with some friends so I'll jot down a brief entry here once we are through. 
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2/23/2021 - Night sit - 70 minutes

Group sit with friends: a smattering of discussion, Metta, and resting in attention with the breath. My legs are sore. Besides that, attention was fairly good, the body felt settled & firm. Awareness took in what was going on both internally and externally. 
AKD, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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2/24/2021 - Evening sit - 45 minutes

Really didnt feel like sitting tonight. Started with 15 minutes of Metta and then did 30 minutes of breath meditation. 

Metta was nice. For some reason I focussed on the more difficult folks tonight. It brought up a lot of memories of people I had interacted with earlier in my life when I was a bit more of a jerk. I saw how I wanted to close down and ignore these people so I could avoid thinking about them or wishing them well. The mind was very focused on the task and the body became so settled like waking up from a nap.

Switching to breath meditation, the hindrance of desire became extremely prominant. The mind was tumbling around with songs, cravings, rationalizations, mental images, planning, future thoughts, worries, and so on. Jumping off the cushion and walking away sounded really appealing, but I suppose this is the 'work' of meditation. Just patiently coming back to the breath again and again, feeling into all the discomfort/contraction of the body and the busyness of the mind. 
AKD, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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2/25/2021 - Morning sit - 60 minutes

No Metta today, just practiced resting in attention with the breath. The most notable hindrances were desire, aversion, and some subtle dullness. The mind was extrememly busy and I must have fallen into distraction a few dozen times. Any time I was caught up in distraction, I'd come back to the body and breath without too much fuss, placing my attention on the breath and opening up awareness to all sense doors.

Although there were hindrances, they were not as intense as the past week. There was some general sense of 'okayness' with what was coming up, even if that material was painful - I've been going through this territory so often lately that my patience/capacity to sit with it is slowly growing and it feels like less of a big deal. The body was fairly relaxed and most of the contraction seemed to be happening with regards to the scope of attention/awareness. 

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2/25/2021 - Evening sit - 45 minutes

Started with 15 minutes of Metta before switching to the breath. Overall this was a very difficult sit and I wanted to get up from the cushion every few moments.

I have trouble meditating in the evenings - after a few caffinated beverages throughout the day, I am often partly wired, but also exhausted due to waking up early, going to work, doing other chores, etc. which means my will power is lacking. I often just want to have a few beers, play video games or watch videos online, and eat junk food to tune everything out. The motivation is even harder to come by if I have already done a morning sit since I convince myself I should be off the hook. Most of my evening sits are like this, and when I describe facing strong bouts of desire, dullness, impatience, aversion, doubt, and reactivity, I am describing this barrage of craving. 

Tonight was no different: the Metta was met with little interest, and the hindrances were in full bloom during the breath meditation. It is funny though, on one hand, a former version of myself would have quit the sit early, but tonight I patiently started again and again, bringing myself back to the object of meditation and feeling into the current level of reactivity in the body/mind. Meditation really is 'work' in the sense that we are sitting through all of these crazy currents of desire or aversion, and we just need to be there for it in a way that doesn't seek to get past it or around it. Currently, I am not overly ambitious or trying to blow through the Progress of Insight, but the basic effort of returning to what is already there and resting is still a lot of work. 
 
The question I'm really interested in answering for myself: if I keep practicing in this fashion, will these intense bouts of reactivity start to get dismantled? Or should I find a different way to antidote it (less caffeine, more sleep, cutting out harmful habits, making a daily task list so I don't fall into complacency, etc.)? As I type this, I realize it's some combination of both probably. Ken McLeod talks about freeing up the energy that feeds the reactive patterns so that it flows into attention/presence, but at the moment it feels more like energy is being used to counter the reactive patterns. This is interesting stuff.
George S, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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Yeah trying to counter the reactivity doesn't work, it just drains your energy. What you need to do is to fully experience the reactivity without acting on it. So take your example of wanting to tune out with beer, videos and junk food. This is the void element pattern - numbing yourself due to feeling overwhelmed by the intrinsic spaciousness/emptiness of existence. Instead of actually using the numbing stuff, you just meditate and visualize the process - the feeling of being empty and overwhelmed, the feeling of craving for something to numb that feeling, the feeling of giving in and opening a beer, the feeling of momentary relief, followed by the return of feelings of emptiness accompanied by feelings of failure, guilt and self-recrimination. You want to observe really closely how this whole process of reactivity plays out in your body. As you repeat the exercise, the reactive pattern starts to "self-liberate", meaning you can experience the emotions without the compulsion to act on them. Eventually you come back to the source and realize that emptiness/space is not so bad after all, it's actually a pretty cool place to hang out, you were just having a bad reaction to it, and suddenly your energy returns because you are not fighting it any more. emoticon

EDIT: Also, if you do succumb to the reactivity, which happens to all of us, no need to feel bad. You can still meditate afterwards and fully experience what it's really like to be full of beer and junk food and gamed out. It's actually a pretty interesting meditation. I remember once meditating after a few beers and being like 'wow, this is what it really feels like to be drunk, I don't really like this at all'. I've barely had a drop since then and I used to be a competitive binge drinker back in the day.
AKD, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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Hey George, 

I thank you for your thoughts and I believe that you're probably correct. I will read more about the Dakinis at some point and hopefully that framework will help with these feelings although it sounds sorta silly to attribute this to feeling "overwhelmed by the intrinsic spaciousness/emptiness of existence".

Question: when you refer to "feelings of emptiness" above what do you mean by that exactly? In this context, it sorta sounds like the unsatisfactoriness that many depressed people who lie in bed all day report - these folks feel empy inside. It doesn't quite sound like the Emptiness that is described in "Seeing That Frees" where the practitioner realizes that some aspect of reality is fabricated. 
On one hand, people describe feelings of depression and feeling "empty", on the other hand people describe the real understanding of fabrication and grokk what emptiness is in terms of experiential reality which is supposedly quite freeing. 
Tim Farrington, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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Hi AKD, and forgive me for showing up late to the party here, though I've been following your great log with interest all along. I just wanted to say that you're really keeping up a fairly severe monastic schedule right now, given that you also work all day. It's actually more rigorous than the practice of most of the people in the ashram I spent a couple of years in way back in the day, and our evening practice was a program, sometimes a talk but most often chanting, which is very chill and actually as good as ice cream and beer most of the time. So you are during some hard-ass sadhana right now, and you're also cleaning your own toilets.

For what it's worth, I used to bust out of the ashram once in a while and slip off down the street to the local McDonalds for a cheeseburger, fries, and a big vanilla shake, and I would read Doris Lessing novels there and feel wonderfully degenerate. 
George S, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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Yes "emptiness" is a bit of a loaded term, "spaciousness" may be simpler. So every element is a reaction to the "intrinsic spaciousness of  existence" and comes in two forms - "distorted" and "liberated". E.g. distorted fire element is feeling lonely and consuming to increase intensity, liberated fire is getting close through compassion. "Space" or "void" element is a bit confusing because it underlies the other four, but basically it refers to feeling overwhelmed or "empty" and numbing oneself or "spacing out" in its distorted form, and pervasive awareness (opposite of ignoring) in its liberated form. The "emptiness" of dependent origination (emptiness of any intrinsic existence) is a somewhat related concept and it is ultimately freeing, but it can also be tremendously threatening (so again a "liberated" vs "distorted" reaction).

The important thing about all this is not to get hung up on the theory, but do the exercises and visualizations yourself. That way you get a feel for how the patterns work in your life. There's no "right answer" and I might be misinterpreting your experience. But once you start to see your own patterns then you see how pervasive they are and also it's the same pattern running in totally different situations. So for me "space" reactivity covers everything from depression to binging on Netflix to spacing out in meditation. The more you see it and the faster you detect it, the less of a problem it is. The nice thing about this practice is that the reactivity can be a lot more noticeable in daily life than it is in meditation, so you have a lot to work with and can make relatively fast progress. You might spend years spacing out in meditation without realizing it's a problem, but if you wanted to meditate and binged instead then obviously something else is going on! Likewise with anger, conflicts in daily life are much more noticeable than subtle self-directed anger in meditation.

I would also recommend the book Spectrum of Ecstasy for realms/elements practice as it has lots of practical examples from western household life. Also it's chapters 5 and 6 of WUTYL which are the heart of it in case you didn't get there yet. I found the dakinis stuff a bit abstract, I just used the examples and templates from my own life. As shargrol said to me, the cool thing about this practice is that the shittier things seem, the more opportunity you have to cut to the heart of reactive patterns and free yourself from them. emoticon
George S, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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Also I have to add, the word 'intrinsic' can be misleading as well. There are lots of different terms for this intrinsic whateverness: spaciousness, emptiness, fullnesss (!), wholeness, thisness, thusness, isness, beingness etc. The way I see it, elements practice is a kind of expanded form of the middle links of dependent origination (reaction to stimuli) and realms is where you get "born" in the later links. From this higher level perspective it seems there is a reaction to some intrinsic property of existence. But at some point you have to examine that intrinsic property itself and see that it also collapses. So spaciousness collapses into awareness into nothingness etc in the formless jhanas. Or emptiness is itself empty, just another property of conventional reality - 'emptiness is not other than form'. Not necessarily relevant to the current discussion, but just wanted to put it out there!
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RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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Hey George, thank you for taking the time to type out such a detailed answer. I'll likely be referring to it in the future and unpacking it more and more as things progress. I decided to work with WUTYL in order - from what I understand, it can take years to work with it in this fashion, but I'm in no rush. I'm sure I'll read an article or instructions about these element and realms practices on Ken's website and then I'll be able to apply it to my life well before reaching that part of the book and practicing it 'formally'. At this point, I still am working on cultivating attention since I am still quite a distracted meditator even after hundreds of hours of cushion time in the last few years. 
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RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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Thank you for the encouragement Tim! Sounds like you had a lovely time in the ashram. Funnily enough, I live within walking distance of a McDonalds as well - maybe I'll be making the trek there once in a while when my apartment feels too much like an ashram!
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RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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2/26/2021 - Evening sit - 10 minutes

One of these days where I skipped practice, but still tried to sit for a few moments to preserve some sense of commitment and continuity. 
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RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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2/27/2021 - Morning sit - 60 minutes

Started with 15 minutes of Metta before switching over to the breath. 

Another sit characterized by disinterest, spacing out, boredom, low energy, doubts, frustration, aversion, etc. Coming out of this session, I am in a worse mood than when I went into it. Funny how just repeatedly trying to come back to the breath can result in such an adverse reaction. 
AKD, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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3/2/2021 - Evening sit - 30 minutes

Resting in the experience of breathing - felt settled, things became soft, and I dozed off repeatedly. Very tired sort of day so this was expected. 

3/2/2021 - Night sit - 70 minutes

Group sit with friends: a smattering of discussion, Metta, and resting in attention with the breath. Attention was fairly good, the body felt settled & firm. Awareness took in what was going on both internally and externally - there was little struggle. 
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RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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3/3/2021 - Morning sit - 30 minutes

Resting in the experience of breathing. A plain sit charcterized by few hindrances. Patiently returning to the breath/body when getting distracted. I had some future thoughts, planning, and worry related to life stuff. When getting centered on the experience of breathing, relaxation would naturally occur and awareness would open up to the wider field of internal/external experience. 

Throughout my day, I often try to practice this technique when: washing dishes, folding laundry, cooking, eating, cleaning, walking, using the restroom, showering, watching TV, in meetings, work tasks that are not cognitively demanding, while driving, shopping, hiking, falling asleep, waking up, etc. It's been helpful to tune into an open experience of awareness while engaged in the task at hand. There are many hours during my day where I forget this intention and tune out, but it's a seed that has been growing. 


3/3/2021 - Lunch - Mindful Eating

Although this wasn't formal meditation, I decided to eat my lunch very slowly and mindfully. Usually when I eat a meal, I put on a TV show or find some YouTube video to watch while I'm eating - this typically leads to greedily and mindlessly scarfing down food.
I sat in silence and made sure to tune into the sights, sounds, smells, textures, tempertures, and flavors while taking special care to chew each mouthful many many times. There's always an automaticity to just swallowing food that borders on impatience. I'm not sure how often I'll do this, but I've noticed that I am very attached to having some form of entertainment going while eating which is ironically taking me away from an enriching sensory experience.


3/3/2021 - Evening sit - 45 minutes

Started with 15 minutes of Metta before resting in awareness of the breath. The mind was very sluggish as I was drowsy after work. Metta was hard to focus on and repeating the phrases in my mind was a slog. During mindfulness of breathing, I must have dozed of 12-18 times. Watching the breath as things would go soft at which point the mental imagery & mental narratives became vivid as I slipped into sleep. This happened so many times and it became sort of unreal to watch as the line between the dream world and the waking world would blur again and again. 
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RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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3/5/2021 - Evening sit - 45 minutes

Resting in awareness with the breath. Tonight I set an intention to tighten focus on the breath just a bit more than usual in order to ride it like a wave. Overall, there were a few different hindrances: I was really bloated for some reason so my body felt uncomfortable and there was some stress and anxiety. Additionally, I was quite drowsy.

This was all a blessing though: I am appreciating how difficult sits are the ones in which we can strengthen our attention & awareness and learn more about the mind. Coming back to the breath again and again produced a certain satisfaction and confidence - especially when catching distractions before they lead to mind wandering. Overall, the sit seemed to be over quick as I was engrossed in the process. 
AKD, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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3/6/2021 - Morning sit - 45 minutes

Resting in awareness of the breath - a sit similar to the one yesterday evening. The intention was the same, although this time the hindrances were a bit different. Mind wandering occured at point which lead to low levels of discouragement or frustration, but nothing too crazy. 

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3/6/2021 - Afternoon sit - 45 minutes

Resting in awareness of the breath. I was a bit less determined during this sit. Right away, there were doubts related to a certain turns my practice has been taking with regards to mentorship, methods, lineages, etc. There was also quite a bit of drowsiness and dullness as I started to settle down. Lately, I have been assailed by doubts which has made it more difficult to be consistent with sitting. I used to be very gung ho, but the flame is spluttering as I question why I do all of this yet something inside of me freaks out everytime I consider giving up. A rock and a hard place. I just keep doing my best to notice these fears and bring myself back to the breath/body, or whatever task I may be attending to in the moment. 
George S, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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It's worth bearing in mind that the patterns tend to fight back once you start prodding them! It's almost as if they have a life of their own - they evolved to meet a certain purpose and will fight for survival when they are threatened. So this meta-pattern of digging down deep and bringing some element of reactivity into awareness, followed by being assailed by dullness (void element!) and doubts (air element!), is itself a very common pattern! Ken talks about it in his book and it's certainly something that I've observed in my practice. It might not feel like it, but it's actually a sign of progress!
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RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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Thank you for the encouragement George!
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RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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3/7/2021 - Afternoon sit - 45 minutes

Resting in the experience of breathing. Pretty standard sit - there was dullness and mind wandering. Plenty of patience associated with returning to the breath again and again however which helped grease the wheels. I have been been seeing the effect of sitting on my mindfulness off cushion - there is definitely a positive correlation there which is helping to inspire me. There wasn't much impatience associated with the length of the sit either which is usually a hindrance I deal with quite often. Hopefully practicing this way well continue to yield benefits.

Over the last week or two, I have noticed that there was a slight imbalance in my posture that has been causing subtle pain in my neck. I removed about 2 quarts of buckwheat hulls from my cushion as I think I was positioned too high which caused my legs to pull my entire spine forward ever so slightly. I'll see if this will lead to a positive change before adding or removing more of the filling. 


In other news, I was offered a spot on a Zoom retreat/workshop starting today that will be led by one of Ken McLeod's longtime students that he authorized to teach. This was sort of last minute so I won't be able to treat it like a formal retreat, but I think it will provide a good foundation for working with Ken's material. The retreat will focus on the Four Ways of Working: https://unfetteredmind.org/the-four-ways-of-working/
There are 5 dharma talks over the next month on Sunday evenings, along with guided meditations and daily group sits during the week. I will not be able to attend the daily group sits due to the fact that I am in a different timezone and will be at work, but every session is recorded so I can just follow along with the videos during my own daily sits.  I'll be reporting my daily sits here based on the instructions given during this workshop.


3/7/2021 - Evening sit - 40ish minutes

This was a guided meditation that came at the end of the first dharma talk on 'Power'. There are two methods that we are supposed to experiment this week and we were guided through both methods. My intention is to practice both methods each day in separate 45 minute sits.

The first method involves calling up some personal core belief or social roll or identity that causes us suffering. The point is to really generate the feeling in the body associate with the belief. Then we are to slowly visualize placing this 'issue' in a bag, tying it off, placing it down on the ground, telling ourselves that we don't need this burden, then turning around and walking away. 

The second method is simply the Five-Step Mindulness practice outlined here: https://unfetteredmind.org/five-step-mindfulness-practice/ The first part is once again to generate a problematic emotion, stabilize it, and then do the exercise of bringing more awareness to the emotion and all problematic reactions and learning to settle into it however it may manifest.

During the guided sit, I had trouble with the first exercise. My life is partly run by a core belief that I am not good enough or worthy. I am very aware of that fact though and, although I have experienced some really difficult emotions associated with that fact, they just wouldn't come during the session. I also could not quite believe that just putting the belief in a bag and dropping it would help resolve anything. I was very skeptical and there wasn't really any relief or lightness associated with walking away from the bag as some other folks on the call reported. I'm not disappointed though - I'd like to experiment with this method and vizualize putting the belief in different types of bags and placing the bag in different locations (in this case I imagined a white bag with a blue cross like the flag of Finland that I dropped on a trail in the woods I was hiking today).

The second exercise was definitely more emotionally charged. I brought up a memory from a few years back which comes up quite often and I usually just try to repress the thoughts. Tonight I really called it up and felt the 'gut punch' and disappointment and fear associated with this memory. The issue here was, as I tried to follow the instruction of easing into the emotion, I was no longer generating the emotion causing the emotion to fade. Slippery business. There was a moment during the session where I realized, even though the emotions were painful, and I was reacting with aversion to the emotions, I was still fundamentally alright and I don't always need to hide from feeling these emotions fully. Shining a light on those dark corners that I usually want to avoid. 
Tim Farrington, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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Wow, AKD, this workshop sounds great.

I hope you get the tweaks on your sitting posture smoothed out. The times when I've been in transition on sitting posture have generally been rough, it's like changing a golf swing, from what I understand of that process: you see the hole in your old swing and realize you have to change it, but the new swing is actually worse for a while, awkward and feels ineffectual, while your muscles are relearning everything. But when it clicks, mo bettah. Just remember throughout that it's a real factor, the posture change, and be easy with the process as an aspect of your practice. 
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RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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Thank you for the encouragement Tim! There is definitely a change in the posture related to the slightly lower cushion. It remains to be seen whether this posture is better or not so it will take a few weeks to sort out. 
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RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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3/8/2021 - Morning sit - 45 minutes

Started with 25 minutes of resting on the breath in attention before attempting the visualization exercise above. There was quite a bit of restlessness and dread due to the start of the week and going back to work. I was also pretty dull/drowsy as I had trouble falling asleep last night. Thoughts were also popping up in relation to planning out the visualization and which 'core belief' I'd end up using, etc.

Quite naturally, the feeling of being a failure arose. The mind started pulling up thoughts of missed deadlines, houseplants I had killed, failed romantic relationships, unhealthy/unproductive aspects of my current lifestyle, the way I avoid certain situations or procastinate certain areas of my life, the fact that I was unable to stay on the breath during this sit, etc. The physical sensations associated with these were centered behind the navel - there was a cocktail of sensations similar to sadness, frustration, existential dread, anger, and apathy. There was the additional aversion to these physical sensations and mental phenomena. 

The visualization took place in a small city square (Marienplatz in Stuttgart Germany - a place I visited while studying abroad). The drawstring bag was made of dark green velvet fabric and there was a circular, ornate pattern stitched on it in white, not completely unlike a mandala. In the middle of the pattern was an oval shaped gem that looked dark purple, almost like an eye through which the bag could see. It was an ominous looking bag like it belonged to Slytherin in Harry Potter. I walked up the steps in the middle of the square that has a small marketplace. I unfolded the bag and held it close to my navel where the sensations had been centered. The feelings of failure emerged from my navel as black smoke with tendrils that latched on to the mouth of the bag, trying to climb its way back out. The tendrils were eventually forced into the bag as more and more smoke poured out. I tied the bag off and it was completely inflated - about the size of an adult cat, but weighing next to nothing. The bag seemed very much alive and cursed. I placed the bag down, stated that I didn't need to carry this weight anymore, and walked down the steps and down the street. Afterward, I could sense a change in the energy of my body - a reduction in the sensations associated with failure, a bit of ease. There was some guilt however - I realized afterward that I shouldn't just leave a dangerous package like that in the middle of a public place. If someone opens it, the smoke will come out at them. In the future, I will try to visualize placing the bag in more remote areas. 

I also think that next time I will start this exercise with 30 minutes of sitting and reserve just 15 minutes for the visualization and cooling off period since that part goes rather quickly. 


3/8/2021 - Evening sit - 55 minutes

Resting in attention with the breath + five-step mindfulness practice.

My original plan was to cultivate stable attention during the first half of the sit before calling up difficult emotions to work on with the five step mindfulness practice, but the mind had other plans. It didn't take very long after starting meditation when a barrage of difficult emotions came up. Before the sit, I had laid down for a nap so I was quite relaxed before sitting. Within minutes of sitting on the cushion, I was facing existential dread tied to future thoughts about deadlines or other life things that may or may not happen. There was a lot of stress and fear and the thought loops were very seductive. 

At that point, I realized that there was no point in waiting to start the 5 step practice since difficult emotions were arising anyway. I didn't quite repeat the phrases formally, but I went through and examined which emotions were present, the reactions to those emotions, and then, along with the breath, I was able to cultivate a sense of calm and ease in the turmoil. From that perspective of being in the emotion in a clear way, I set intentions to examine how it was arising, how it was manifesting in the moment. 

In the latter half of the sit, the difficult emotions were calming down as if they had been processed. At that point, leg pain became the dominant issue: experiencing the pain, I then tried to observe the reactions to it, cultivate a sense of calm and then ease. This was really difficult because pain causes quite an energetic reaction in me (agitation) where I want to leap off the cushion. 

On some level, I have been doing something similar to the 5 step process these last few weeks, but these steps help to make it a bit more intentional. 
Tim Farrington, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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There was some guilt however - I realized afterward that I shouldn't just leave a dangerous package like that in the middle of a public place. If someone opens it, the smoke will come out at them. In the future, I will try to visualize placing the bag in more remote areas. 

To ease your mind, AKD, I actually happened to stumble across that bag of smoke during my last meditation this morning, and it followed me home, like a stray cat. I gave it a bowl of milk and it seems quite happy here. I am a smoker, and if the bag ever lets loose, I'll be right at home. Meanwhile, no harm, no foul, and thanks for the bonus companionship, lol.
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RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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Thank you Tim. You're showing my personal hang-ups some Metta and I think that's something I could learn to do as well.
Tim Farrington, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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lol, AKD, I think that guilt you felt was real moral sense, a feedback on behavior, a product of self-examination in the best sense, not a personal hang-up. And I certainly had no notion of addressing any hang-up in your process or person. I was genuinely touched by your concern for those fellow souls in the square in Stuttgart, even as you were working so hard on your purgative process. Yes, there is an element of meta-humor, moving toward playful absurdity even, once i chime in, in that it is actions in a visualization, and then in a secondary visualization, but right behavior in every bardo and realm is crucial. Treating others well in any bardo, whatever its metaphysical or ontological status, is simply beautiful. And if I could ease your sense of the work you did by suggesting that the imaginary bag that lightened your load did no imaginal harm to others, and even did some good to me, for whatever peculiar reasons . . . well, all the better. It's a jam session, and your solo was great; I just did a little riff on one motif. Keep up the good work, my friend.
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RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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3/9/2021 - Evening sit - 45 minutes

Started with 30 minutes of resting in attention with the breath before trying out the visualization exercise.

There isn't much to say about the first 30 minutes: I'd get distracted, come back to the body and the breath, and started opening up awareness to include internal and external experience.

When it was time for the visualization, I decided that I'd try to generate feelings of uselessness that had popped up a bit earlier in the evening. I had visualized a royal blue, satin cloth bag with a gold stitched pattern and blue jewel. There was also a sort of chain netting around the bag to weigh it down. I vizualized myself paddling out on a lake a short drive from my parents' house, placing my sense of uselessness in the bag, before rolling it off the side of the paddleboard into the water. The issue was, the feelings of uselessness didn't quite manifest so strongly in the body, but I followed through with the visualization. I imagined the bag sinking to the bottom of the lake which made me feel uneasy because I have a slight phobia of deep water. 

At that point, I switched gears and started visualizing deep water, sunken airplanes & boats (https://old.reddit.com/r/submechanophobia/), sea monsters of different shapes and sizes - anything to make me feel uncomfortable. It was chilling and eerie - the body had this icy emotional quality and there was a faint nausea. I figured since I had accidentally tripped up an emotional reaction, I'd just work with that for the rest of the sit - I intend to do this one again and maybe torture myself by looking at some photos in the linked subreddit above. 


3/9/2021 - Night sit - 45 minutes

Resting in the experience of breathing. Sort of a hum-drum sit. Very often getting lost in distraction and then resetting: bringing the mind back to the body, the breath, and then opening to all experience internal and external until falling back into distraction. Rinse and repeat. 

There was some boredom & some impatience which wasn't so bad, but I started fretting about my posture quite a bit and tried to reshape the cushion several times now that I've taken out some of the stuffing. Posture-wise, I was wayyy more comfortable during the sit before this one. There were also some uncomfortable body sensations (contraction in the abdomen and tightness in the throat) and I realized at point that I was sort of generally aware of these things, but also tuning them out quite a bit. I'm beginning to wonder how much of my experience is just tunedd out, but that's a question I'll have to sit with during my next few sits. 
George S, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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Nice switch. That's a good practice, meditating on your fears. Kind of like charnel ground meditations.

Most of the incomng sense data is naturally tuned out, unless it's changing and alerts us to fight, flight, eat or breed. It's a pretty interesting exercise to focus on everything that's not doing that - reality suddenly gets a lot more expansive and less threatening/addictive.
AKD, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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Thank you for the tip!
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RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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3/10/2021 - Morning sit - 60 minutes

Resting in awareness with the breath. I didn't feel much like digging into any reactivity today beyond what comes up naturally as a result of sitting quietly.

A standard sit - I say the scales were tipped in the direction of resting with the breath instead of getting lost. I noticed lately, after getting settled on the body & breath, that when I 'open' to experience I unconciously gravitate towards the auditory field. There is a sense of ease associated with just listening and sitting in the sound bath. Today, I set intentions to keep the body and breath in awareness alongside the auditory field. Of course thoughts, emotions, feelings, urges, etc. all pop up, but I try to keep contact with the breath while all of this arises.

Other than that, not much to say. A relatively calm sit and any resistance that popped up was unproblematic. 
AKD, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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3/11/2021 & 3/12/2021 - Skipped. Didn't feel like sitting.

3/13/2021 - 45 minutes of open awareness sort of practice while laying on a yoga mat. 

3/14/2021 - Took part in the next portion of the workshop. The topic was ecstacy as described here: https://unfetteredmind.org/the-four-ways-of-working/

We did a guided sit with 2 separate instructions. Since ectasy includes a sense of devotion, the firt part of the sit was the Guru Yoga Prayer as described here: https://unfetteredmind.org/guru-yoga-prayer/

The second part of the sit was about opening to experience in such a way that we create less distance between the experience and all of its richness. The instruction was to pick a sense door (sight or sound were recommended but this can be done with anything), within that sense door pick a frame or single object, then open to every detail/component within the frame or object. Anytime the mind fixates on a detail, open back up to the whole frame/object in a gentle way. 

Not much to report all in all.
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RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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3/15/2021 - Afternoon sit - 30 minutes

Sat in the midst of angst/anger/frustration/pointlessness on the cushion today. I guess it's just one of those days where I hate everything and feel stuck in life.
George S, modified 3 Months ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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Good that you sat through it. Important to investigate those feelings, i.e. the physical sensations beneath the thoughts.
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RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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In a bit of a slump. Unmotivated, disinterested, and also exhausted as sleep has been all over the place.

Skipped on 3/16/2021

3/17/2021 & 3/18/2021 - 45 evening sits which I basically slept through

3/19/2021 - Drowsy morning sit. I went to bed early since I was so exhausted, but I couldn't sleep past 4:30 this morning. The morning sit was a drowsy, impatient one.
AKD, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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5/6/2021

Haven't posted here in a while. I've been sitting sporadically. Logging something here every day can be a bit of a chore as well so I gave it up. In a bit of a rut but let's see if I can get back to it.

Afternoon sit - 40 minutes

Sat outside in the sun.

Lately when sitting, I gravitate towards a state where attention/awareness open up and I can just rest in that. The balance shifts in favor of tuning into sound, the full body as it breathes, and the visual field (eyes closed static). Thought loops/thinking or other forms of reactivity can (and very often do) pull me out of the state, but then I wake up and return to resting. This restful/open quality is able to be maintained through low levels of reactivity or discomfort, and it's nice to just soak in it. I would not really consider it a state of dullness even though it is restful, it seems alert and I can notice drowsiness if and when it happens. 

During today's sit, in only took about 5 minutes to settle in to this open way of experiencing. The sounds of birds, wind, cars, bugs, lawn equipment, etc. dominated. Although at first, the body was contracted, it eventually eased into a state of relaxation that felt a bit indulgent - there seemed to be this energy that was drawn down to the legs and but that were resting on the cushion.
Thought loops did lead to distraction here and there: logging thoughts, doubts, worries, frustrations, planning, craving, etc. As the sun started to warm up, there was bodily discomfort in feeling overheated - there were waves that traveled across the body from the warmth, but they also had a cool, electric quality to them when really feeling into them. A bit of boredom and impatience arose at points, but all in all I was surprised when the bell rang as the sit felt reasonably short.
George S, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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It doesn't feel like it at the time, but sitting through a rut is where you make the most progress!
AKD, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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I've heard that sentiment echoed by many practitioners - I'll keep it in mind!
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RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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5/7/2021 - Morning sit - 40 minutes

A sit similar to yesterday's, albeit the mind was more scattered this morning. Probably due to the cup of coffee that I had as well as the fact that today is a busy day resulting in many planning thoughts.

5/7/2021 - Evening sit- 45 minutes

A sit similar to this morning's session. This time around I was slightly more contracted and more prone to getting lost in planning thoughts. The body still felt settled, but not as much as usual. There was some leg pain as well which I had to contend with. Towards the end of the sit, there was a bit of restlessness and impatience as I wondered when the bell would ring and whether or not I'd be able to do everything on my 'to-do' list. Doubts ('I am a bad meditator') were also churning up in response to getting lost in thought. 

Other than that, the quality of the sit was mostly one of rest, where awareness was open to the field of sounds, sights, smells, body sensations, emotions, urges, thoughts, etc.
AKD, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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5/8/2021 - Afternoon sit - 45 minutes

Started the session with breath counting to get settled and concentrated. Experimented with the balance between effort and relaxation. I have a tendancy to become too 'tight' when trying to focus, but the body seemed to relax without getting contracted. At some point, attention was fairly stable on the breath, but drowsiness started dominate the sit. 

The rest of the sit was a snooze-fest: I'd get pulled into vivid dreams while trying to note, the noting would fall apart, and I'd doze off. I'd wake up, continue noting, repeating the cycle again and again.  
AKD, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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5/9/2021 - Morning sit - 45 minutes

Started with breath counting to get concentrated. It took a while for the mind to settle down, but it did stabilize after a while. Counting is helpful in that I can notice distraction/mind wandering within 10 breaths or less and I don't spending minutes tuned out. After maybe 10-15 minutes of stabilizing attention, the became subtle and slippery. It fell off into the background and the rest of the external and internal world became prominant. At that point I stopped breath counting and switched to some lite noting and just resting in the state of open awareness.

Sounds and body sensations were the predominant experiences. Sitting outside, there is a rich soundscape of birds, cars, lawn equipment, airplanes, wind, and more. The body sensations were mostly related to changes in temperature as the wind picked up or the sun came out. Hindrances included planning thoughts, restlessness, impatience, memories, etc. For the most part, the body relaxed and there was a sense of just resting in experience has it popped off around 'me'. 
AKD, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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5/10/2021 - Afternoon sit - 45 minutes

Started with breath counting and got quite settled with that before awareness naturally opened up and I switched to lite noting/resting in awareness.

After that, the sit became a snooze-fest as I constantly drifted off into dreams.

5/10/2021 - Evening sit - 55ish minutes

Started with breath counting again and got reasonably settled and concentrated. Again, awareness naturally opened up and I rested in that state of open monitoring. Thoughts would sometimes lead to distraction which resulted in additional thoughts/beliefs about being a crappy meditator. I'd patiently go back to the body, breath, and the soundscape. There was still some drowsiness and some hypnagogic imagery, but I did not doze off this time. There were also thought loops related to 'gaming' the meditation and also some doubts about trusting awareness, and impatience for the sit to be over. Doubts were a bit of a hindrance all in all. Towards the end of the sit, thoughts quieted down a bit and the only other hindrance was leg pain. 
AKD, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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5/11/2021 - Afternoon sit - 40 minutes

Took my cushion to a local state park and hiked to a private spot along a brook. I cannot remember where the Buddha said it (which scripture), but if memory serves correctly, he told his disciples to go meditate beneath trees, in beds of straw, abandoned buildings, etc. and I love meditating out in nature more than at home. 

I practiced some lite noting and resting in experience. The mind naturally opened up and awareness was 'spacious'. The body settled nicely and the predominant sensations were related to posture, the breath, and an overall sense of ease and relaxation. The mind was drawn to the babbling water and the chirping of birds.

Plenty of practice related thoughts popped up as well. I noticed evaluation, mapping, logging thoughts, self comparison, doubts, feeling guilty when I drift off, aversion to certain spiritual ideals, etc. There are also trust issues with regards to awareness.
AKD, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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Side note not related to my daily practice: after talking to a potential teacher/mentor who is in Ken's 'lineage', I've decided that I don't feel comfortable working with this person.

This was mainly due to a disagreement about attainments: I somewhat trust in the 4-Path model to an extent (I hold it loosely - it inspires me), but this person sorta shat on the entire concept saying any idea of attainment is 'Spiritual Materialism' (which has some truth to it I concede). At the same time, after seeing this person's social media posts related to spirituality and such, I feel like they are being a bit hypocritical in touting their spiritual identity in various ways. Additionally, this person admitted to having no idea about any other schools/traditions of Buddhism and the practices, attitudes, goals, outcomes, etc. related to those. I think I'd like to work with someone who is a bit more well rounded and open minded. To their credit, when I voiced these concerns they asked me why I didn't just go ahead and work with a teacher who used the principles and methods I am interested in. 

Secondly, I know that WUTYL is a fantastic resource and there are many practices contained there-in, but I am drawn to simplicity. I get a bit 'turned off' by so many different practices as it feels like I have to check off every box by doing them and doing them correctly. The same thing happened when I tried to work with 'Seeing that Frees' - it's just so dense and it feels like being back in college and working through a text book. So for now, I am going to table it and just practice what inspires me. I'll definitely come back to it in the future. That said, I am very glad I worked with WUTYL for a little while to gain a new perspective or frame through which to practice: working with reactivity. It's an invaluable perspective.

At this point, I am drawn both to Burmese Vipassana and Zen (shikantaza specifically) - even just the foundational practice as presented in WUTYL because that seems rather similar to shikantaza honestly (or the later modes of practice as advocated by Mahasi Saydaw - when a practitioner drops noting in favor of noticing). I guess the saying goes, "The best technique is the one you'll actually practice." 

I've been thinking about reaching out to my former teacher, but the expectations and mixture of personalities exacerbated my reactivity and I was sort of miserable. Once I stopped working with them, I was very uninspired to practice anymore and it took a month or two for me to get back to it. Maybe what I learned from WUTYL could help me navigate the teacher/student relationship in a new way. Maybe not. Maybe I already messed that relationship up. At this point though, I am just content on trying to sit once a day. 
George S, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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I would question whether you actually need a teacher at this point. It seems to be introducing interpersonal dynamics which are unrelated to the basics of investigating your core sensate experience. A lot of this stuff you just have to figure out on your own by sitting with it and investigating for yourself. I found zen/advaita (just sitting, no one to get anywhere) and WUTYL (realms/elements) essential later on, but only after really throwing myself into Mahasi style noting and getting some "results" first.
AKD, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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Thank you George. I'm interested in having a teacher as I believe that I am still pre SE and would like to work with a qualified person to get my practice going in that direction. Additionally, many books and participants here and on other forums recommend getting a teacher. The sentiment is that awakening is very unlikely without a teacher or some formal support. So in one sense, there is a need for validation. 

At the same time, I could just be hesitant to work with someone because I know that I can be stubborn and reactive. This topic of practice is very close to my heart, and when someone points out the shortcomings in my practice, I take it personally (the irony). It's an avoidance mechanism.

I don't want to be shooting myself in the foot by avoiding a formal teacher because I cling too tightly to my 'wants' or because I am too lazy to improve my weak areas (concentration, micro-phenomenology, factors of awakening, etc.). However, I have a few people in mind that may be worth reaching out to, although none of them are really focused on Pragmatic Dharma. Dhammarato comes to mind. 

I've been practicing for years, but I am not sure I have much to show for it beyond being more present, a tad more self aware, and slightly less caught up in my reactivity. I'm not sure how much of this can be attributed to practice though, or is it just part of normal adult maturity? Hard to say.  
George S, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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It seems like you have a solid practice and good insight ability, and becoming less reactive is definitely progress, so I’m wondering if this teacher issue might be about something slightly deeper which is holding you back.

The need for validation is a big issue facing everyone on the path. You mentioned that you found one potential teacher hypocritical because of their spiritual identity, yet the topic of practice is very close to your heart. Anyone who has been practicing for a while and involved in spiritual circles (even if only as an observer) is bound to develop some kind of “spiritual identity”, even if it’s just an internal narrative about what awakening will be like for them personally. In some ways it’s easier for a beginner who just jumps in without any preconceptions about what it will be like. But you can always cultivate a beginner’s mind - where it’s just you sitting alone with your immediate experience in the present moment and figuring out what’s going on. And if you’re not a beginner then part of that process will have to involve deconstructing the spiritual identity and investigating what’s really going on with the need for validation.
​​​​​​​
The other possibility that comes to mind is that maybe there is a minor attachment or codependency issue here, like one of those ‘can’t live with you, can’t live without you’ kind of relationships. Probably I’m reading too much into it, but thought I’d throw it out there just in case.
Tim Farrington, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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AKD: 

I somewhat trust in the 4-Path model to an extent (I hold it loosely - it inspires me) . . . 

So for now, I am going to table it and just practice what inspires me. I'll definitely come back to it in the future. That said, I am very glad I worked with WUTYL for a little while to gain a new perspective or frame through which to practice: working with reactivity. It's an invaluable perspective.

At this point, I am drawn both to Burmese Vipassana and Zen (shikantaza specifically) - even just the foundational practice as presented in WUTYL because that seems rather similar to shikantaza honestly (or the later modes of practice as advocated by Mahasi Saydaw - when a practitioner drops noting in favor of noticing). I guess the saying goes, "The best technique is the one you'll actually practice." 

Hi AKD, and thanks for sharing this post from a gnarly spot on your path, where you're sorting out your basic commitments after some good immersion and experience in a good range of systems, exercises, views, and techniques. I was actually struck by how clear you have it, as far as I can tell. You answered all your own questions, and strongly. It sounds like you're ready for a phase of simplified practice along a more coherent, more sustained commitment of your energy to a single technique, or a couple techniques at most. You want the technique you'll actually practice (I love that quote), and you're making your discernments based mainly on what actually inspires you to do the work. It's something that happens on the path: after a period of exploration, learning, and abstraction and speculation, sipping and tasting, you're tired of tasty little hors d-ouevres and are ready to get yourself on a diet that will sustain and nurture you for the long run. Your palate is more sophisticated, and you're also better able to appreciate that intuitive element of inspiration, the actual juice that keeps us going, in its undeniable though inarticulate reality. There's a letting go of well-formulated securities involved, of things that have sounded great but just didn't catch fire for you; and it's scary to trust your own little spark, in all its tiny vagueness, when there are lovely big bonfires blazing everywhere, it seems. But all those bonfires started from someone tending to their own little spark under all conditions, through every weather, feeding it twigs, blocking the wind, building up the coals. And learning how to strike a new spark from a flint, after the big stporm blows the whole thing out from time to time, lol. The main thing is, you sound ready to do that in a fresh way, to attend to the cultivation of the fire you feel like you can get the heat and light from, for real.

For what it's worth, it sounds like going back to your old teacher would be a set-up for yuckiness, honestly. "the expectations and mixture of personalities exacerbated my reactivity and I was sort of miserable," sounds clear enough to me. It sounds like maybe what that teacher did give you was a certain structure and channel for your motivation, since it took you a couple months to recover your will to practice on your own. And you're probably longing for that sense of support and motivation in your desire to renew your commitment to practice now. But really, man, you sound good to me, clear, and ready to just get to work, with your expections in balance and your spark glimmering enough to work with: ". . . At this point though, I am just content on trying to sit once a day."  That's a plan, right there. Trust your instinct, and do your best practice with courage and faith in what inspires you and commitment (you've been doing it all along!). You already know this, everything I've said here was just exegesis on your own post, lol. Good luck, my friend.
AKD, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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Thank you for the validation Tim! You're probably right about the teacher. I'll just have to sit with the question a while longer and see what the heart and gut have to say about it. I'm considering my options.

​​​​​​​As long as I keep in touch with folks here, I am probably not entirely lost at sea.
AKD, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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5/12/2021 - Afternoon sit - 45 minutes

Again I hiked along the brook and found another spot to meditate. The sit was pretty similar to yesterday's session in terms of content. This time, there were more issues related to impatience and unrest. There was also a low level of anxiety that I was sitting with.

I also took an interest in trying to 'drop the meditator'. Often times when paying attention to sensate experience, it is framed in the context of meditation. There is an entire field of experience, but the thoughts about practice, the intentions, and the energetic signature associated with 'meditating' create the assumption that there is some sort of split between observer and observed. This is what I am pointing to when I write that I have "trust issues with regards to awareness".  It's as if an airplane pilot had to check each and every gauge in the cockpit constantly because they are unable to let the software fly the plane for them. 

So to try and drop the meditator, I tried to tune into the hearing, the body breathing, and really cultivate a sense of rest - to rest into experience. 
AKD, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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5/13/2021 - Skipped

5/14/2021 - Afternoon sit - 60 minutes

Took my cushion and hiked to the top of a bluff near my apartment. I was able to find a nice mossy patch away from the hiking trail that would afford me some privacy. I figured the moss would be soft enough to support my legs/feet for a nice sit. 

Today's sit was mostly lite noting (not rapid fire, but just noting once every few seconds). Again, it didn't take long for a sense of ease to permeate the body while the attention/awareness opened up to the broad field. Again, I was drawn to the sound scape which included many birds, distant gunshots (I think there is a firing range in the area), wind through the trees, and the sounds of flies buzzing around. The visual field was bright because of the sun and the body temperature would fluctuate quite a bit in response to cloud coverage.

I've noticed lately that I have been getting tripped up by thoughts and emotions, so I took a 'step back' here and there to check in with emotional and mental content. For instance, after about 40 minutes, my legs started to hurt which resulted in a feeling of dread, and thought loops that arose about when and how I should shift my legs. Additionally, there was some lite impatience, but overall, the sit felt shorter than many of my 45 minute sessions which is ironic.

There was also an welcome 'wave' of faith in response to some doubt that arose which was nice. Usually I get quite caught in doubts about the path, etc. and that leads to distraction. 

I think I also need to focus a bit more on keeping the continuity of attention as I am often prone to mind wandering.
AKD, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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5/15/2021 - Mini solo-retreat - 3 hours & 45 minutes

Took my tent, cushion, and a few other necessities on a trail and set up a small camp right next to a small river. I did five sessions, 45 minutes each, alternating sitting and walking meditation. I practiced lite noting. 

The first sit was alright - it felt like a fairly standard sit similar to the sessions I've been logging here lately. The sounds of the wind, birds, and river dominated, the body settled down nicely, and although I got lost in mind wandering here and there, it was fairly straight forward.

The first walking portion was rough - my 'stuff' started to get churned up. In terms of emotions, I went through various states of anger, guilt, fear, paranoia, sadness, discouragement, existential angst, and my overall sense of self-worth took a hit. Concentration fell apart and mindfulness was not continuous - it felt more like I was checking in with my surroundings in between bouts of catastrophizing. I tried to remind myself to view these states/emotions/reactions in awareness instead of getting caught up in them, but I'm a sucker for my own drama apparently and would lose the thread of mindfulness/noting soon after.

The second sit started out strong - concentration grew and the body relaxed, awareness opened up. After about maybe 15-20 minutes, things became dull and I was pulled into drowsiness. I started dozing off; watching the strange interplay between hypnogogic imagery/sound which intermingled with my actual surroundings.

The second walking session was not as emotionally charged as the first, but many of the same themes/issues/emotions/frustrations were once again dredged up. Many doubts about the practice and my ability as a practitioner bubbled up as well.

The third and final sit was a bit quieter. I tried to use a bit more effort to keep the thread of noting intact. I wouldn't say that I was equanimous though. There were still plenty of hard emotions, sticky thought loops, and concentration wasn't very continuous. 


Overall, I'm not sure I had many expectations for this 'retreat', but still feel a bit disappointed. I decided last night that I wanted to do it because yesterday afternoon's sit was rather pleasant - in other words this was a bit of a last minute decision. That said, there was no sense of momentum, concentration sucked, and I was really swamped by a bunch of afflictive emotions. It was hard to keep my 'eye on the ball'. My concentration skills aren't great (I also don't like working with concentration techniques at all either). The issue wasn't following through with the almost ~4ish hours of meditation, but rather, making the most of my time on the cushion. Just another story to notice and drop, I guess. 
AKD, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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5/16/2021 - Noon sit - 45 minutes

Hiked to the top of a cliff with a view of a nice reservoir and farmland. Startedd with breath counting and switched to open awarenes with lite noting.

Awareness was inclusive: taking in the sounds, body sensations, feelings, thoughts, and so on. A feeling of rest and ease pervaded the body at the beginning of the sit. As the sit progressed, there was both physical and mental contraction as argumentative thought loops started to arise. Feeling of frustration and anger percolated to the surface and there was difficulty in trying to keep awareness from getting wrapped up in these dramas. At some point, I briefly reasoned that this was probably some dukkha nana territory (I'm not a fan of mapping during my sits, but the sit as a whole seemed to follow some sort of PoI cycle), and I adjusted my intention to lean into the suckiness a bit more, to be with it instead of tuning it out. This naturally dissolved some of the apparent mental/physical tension associated with being contracted/angry/petty/frustrated. The sit ended shortly thereafter.

5/16/2021 - Afternoon sit - 30 minutes

Sat with a group of students from the 'Four Ways of Working' retreat. One of the older members of the group did a guided meditation where where we called up the various forms of the 'self' and tried to feel into that. Then we switched over to a more pure awareness. At first, I was reluctant to play along and I was very impatient and fidgety. Then, there was a shift to open awareness and a true feeling of resting in experience. 
AKD, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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5/17/2021 - Morning sit - 45 minutes

Will be heading back into the office a few times a week and today is the first day back. That means I had to get up earlier than usual to get a sit in so drowsiness played a role in this morning's session.

I started with breath counting to get centered. It took quite a few minutes to get to where I was able to perceive the in breath and then the outbreath of many breaths in a row. Just setting an intention at the top and bottom of the breath and then holding that intention through the expansion/contraction. The mind was filled with worries/planning about going back to the office. 

Once concentration had been established, I switched over to noting. Attention and awareness didn't quite open up the way they usually do. There was quite a bit of contraction due to the restlessness associated with my work day. The gut and chest were active with many sensations of agitation/excitement. The headspace was sorta drowsy. I also dealt with sore back muscles as I went hiking with a heavy pack yesterday and did some skateboarding (which causes me to hunch over). 

Even with the worries and contraction/expanison of awareness, the concentration was decent. For the first 30-40 minutes, I'd say any mind wandering that occured only lasted 10-30 seconds. Some part of the mind was on the ball today. Towards the end of the sit, the worries/planning became more prevalent and sticky. It was also interesting to toggle between a more contracted state and a more spacious state. Addditionally, there was a sense of resting into all of this 'stuff' even if the body wasn't exactly relaxed. 


5/17/2021 - Evening sit - 50ish minutes

Really didn't feel like sitting tonight, but joined the local Zen group via Zoom anyway. I started the sit with breath counting and again the mind was very active. At some point, some level of concentration had been reached, and I switched over to lite noting. There was so much restlessness in both body and mind. The chest was constricted and the neck was tight. Muscles twitched, the body fidgeted, facial muscles grimaced, uncomfortable head pressures arose, impatience and craving dominated, the mind was scattered. This state characterized most of the sit. 
AKD, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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5/18/2021 - Morning sit - 45 minutes

Slept in this morning so I sat before lunch. 

Tried to get centered with some breath counting - again finding this a challenging proposition. Switched to noting after about 10 minutes. Went through phases of staying with the meditation and then phases of mind wandering where I completely forgot my intention to be mindful. A lot of worry, stress, guilt, yearning, comparison, planning/future thoughts, etc. showing up at the moment.

Practice feels a bit half hearted these days. 


5/18/2021 - Evening sit - 45 minutes

This sit was completely different compared to this morning. In this session, I sat in open awareness and relaxed into experience. I was sitting outside next to a stream so the soundscape was made primarily of running water, birds chirping, and the occasional breeze or voices of people walking by. The sunlight danced off the water which caused a rapid strobing effect behind my closed eye lids. The body was relaxed, and gently balanced on top of itself. There was a bit of impatience towards the end, and mind wandering occured at points, but the dominant qualities of this sit were ease and openess.
AKD, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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5/19/2021 - Morning sit - 45 minutes

Sat in open awareness. There were plenty of planning thoughts and some physical discomfort due to the coffee that I had before the sit. Usually after a cup of coffee, I am somewhat tense and edgy which manifests as various stress signals in the abdomen as well as the mind since I want to get my day started. Impatience is definitely part of that mix.
Something a bit odd about this sit was that I just couldn't seem to get comfortable - my posture seemed slightly off balance no matter how I shifted myself and I kept adjusting throughout the sit. Usually when I sit, I am pretty good for about 45 minutes and can feel quite balanced and relax into that posture in a natural way (if I sit longer, I usually have to shift my legs due to pain that arises later in the sit). 

I cannot remember too much as I'm writing this almost 12 hours later, but I remember this sit being alright as there was a lot of patience in seeing what was happening in this 'space', even when that wasn't so pleasant or when I came back from distraction.
AKD, modified 29 Days ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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5/20/2021 - Skipped

5/21/2021 - Evening sit - 25 minutes

Meant to sit for 45 minutes, but this sit was emotionally charged and I was ready to jump off the cushion after only a few minutes. Tried to practice open awareness and sat by a river at a park nearby. The sounds of the stream dominated along with the chirping birds and distant cars driving by.

The mind was unwieldy. I kept getting caught up in thought loops. The emotions were those of anger, frustration, fear, guilt, and some sense of needing validation. The body was quite uncomfortable - the abdomen was constricted and contracted. There was some gastro intestinal pain too. Overall, aversion to experience reigned and mind wandering was a strong force.
AKD, modified 29 Days ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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5/22/2021 - Morning sit - 40 minutes

Practiced the 'Resting in the experience of the breath' which is like open awareness with breath as an anchor. 

This sit was also emotionally charged: those emotions were ones of anxiety, fear, anger, frustration, catastrophizing and so on. Thought loops and stories were very sticky. There were a lot of planning thoughts, self relflection, bargaining thoughts, etc. 

The body was contracted. Waves of heat/energy related to anger were wafting from my heart center along my extremeties. There was a sinking feeling in my gut, a cold chill of fear. Sensations related to hunger were also arising in the gut and rippling along my extremities. Most sensations were yucky. 

I tried my best to return to the breath and the noises of the space around me, but contiued to get pulled into stories. Aversion was the main flavor.
Tim Farrington, modified 29 Days ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

Posts: 2470 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
I can imagine this is an emotionally charged moment for you, and I can relate to the various images of being in a churning sea of yucky-ness, the waves feeling overwhelming, the sense of visceral sinking, the sheer apparent vastness of it. But you're doing the work, sitting and returning to the breath, and riding it through, or sinking through it, whatever the moment takes. It seems to me that it takes real courage to do that right now. And faith, and trust in your path. The storms come and go, but what you're learning in open-sea survival skills will remain, and is priceless. Hang in there, my friend.
AKD, modified 28 Days ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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Hey Tim, thank you (as always) for the encouragement and for continually being a responsive, compassionate presence on this forum by acknowleding the emotional needs/vulnerability of those who may post here: I feel that you do so in a way that is reasonably unbiased and you often speak from a perspective which is very relatable and steeped in experience. Clearly, your path has been very involved and that you have a lot to share.

Thank you for everything Tim - you're an important part of this space and I hope to learn more about you and your path as time goes on!
AKD, modified 28 Days ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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5/23/2021 - Noon sit - 45 minutes

Sat on a cliff and practiced 'resting in experience with the breath'. Not much to say about this sit as it was very similar to other sits in the last few days: heavy emotions, sticky thought loops, various structures of self making themselves known and dissolving. 

After the sit, a heart opening occured. It was catalyzed by an acquaintence that I spent time in the presence of yesterday. Some folks seems to radiate healing energy without even realizing it. Like an object in a magnetic field also becoming polar, spending time in that field can realign something internally. It's unfortunate that transmissions like this are so rare. Of course, the various structures of self arise after spending time in that open, nurturing space and so I am simply left with the memory.


5/23/2021 - Evening sit - Untimed

Practiced some Metta and a few of the other Brahmaviharas in a beautiful park near my house that I visited for the first time today. Not much to explain, just wanted to note it here.  
AKD, modified 27 Days ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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5/24/2021 - Evening sit - 40 minutes

Resting in experience with the breath. After 15 or so minutes, things simmered down, ease reigned, and awareness opened up to the field. The solidity of the physical body was less pronounced and I felt a bit 'headless' as sounds seemed to just roll through empty space. The breath became fascinating and it was healing to sit like that - enjoying the simplicity and ease of seclusion. 

As time wore on, impatience grew and I set intentions to return to the body and breath and just *rest*. It's odd that although I was rather enjoying the ease and relaxation, the body/mind finds it unsatisfying after a while and starts to contract in various ways.
AKD, modified 26 Days ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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5/25/2021 - Morning sit - 45 minutes

Resting in experience with the breath. The body was contracted to a certain degree during the entire length of the sit and I never really feel like I was at total ease - usually the sense of ease and rest has some energetic quality to it, where the energy seems to sink towards the lower abdomen & the legs/butt. Energy and contraction were centered in the gut/diaphragm and chest. Minor ripples of anxiety, unease, and heat seemed to radiate outward from there.

Dullness was also a factor as I had to get up early to get this sit in. Awareness was also contracted and not so open. 

The mind was also unwieldy and kept diverting into various thought loops and other emotional content. Tuning out again and again and again.
AKD, modified 25 Days ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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5/26/2021 - Afternoon sit - 1 hour

Brought my cushion on a hike and sat on top of a cliff. The mind was very unwieldy and the first 30-40 minutes were a total drag. There was an undercurrent of anxiety that had me worrying about all sorts of stuff. It felt as if various aspects of my life were collapsing, that deadlines of all sorts were hanging over my head, and that I was the worst person. 

Truth is, the sun was shining, the breeze was refreshing, and the view was impressive. The truth of the moment was that I was out enjoying a nice day, but internally things felt utterly terrible.

Later in the sit, I was able to get a bit of a handle on it and keep noting on the out breath. Eventually, some of the catastrophizing gave way to a state that was a bit more neutral. Although the sit seemed unproductive, there was momentum in mindfulness after that, and the rest of the day I was naturally more present. 
AKD, modified 24 Days ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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5/27/2021 - Morning sit - 25 minutes

Meant to sit for 45 minutes, but I kept falling asleep. For whatever reason, I was unable to sleep much last night so when I finally got up to start meditating, I was exhausted.

Started with noting on the outbreath. Dullness soon took over and I was watching the mind as it kept drifting off into dreams. The body disappeared as mental images and mental sounds dominated. I gave up after 25 miutes and decided to get a kick nap in before work. 


5/27/2021 - Evening sit - 45 minutes

Took my cushion out on a new stretch trail and discovered a small campsite at which point I decided to do my sit. Practiced some lite noting, but ultimately just rested in experience.

There was less anxiety today than yesterday. I noticed many stories related to being a meditator and I tried to watch those crop up before dropping them and going back to sensate reality again and again. As the sit progressed, certain worries and sticky thought loops dissolved making it easier to be simply present to the feeling of the body stacked on the cushion, the sound and feel of the wind, the warmth of the sun, and the flickering behind my eyelids as the light made its way through swaying tree leaves.

A few times throughout the sit I was gripped by the urge to check the timer or to jump up and end the session early. These experiences are interesting because they are so energetic/compelling, but if mindfulness is there to meet the urges, then I can watch as the stories and bodily discomfort associated with these urges dissolve again. It is still sorta painful to have to deal with powerful urges though - plenty of dukkha there. 
AKD, modified 23 Days ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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5/28/2021 - Afternoon sit - 45 minutes

Practiced a mix of noting and resting in experience - there was a lot of dullness and the practice felt a bit half-hearted. Dullness was a huge factor. There was a bit of impatience. 

Honestly, I am unable to remember much of this sessions so I'll just leave this discussion here.
AKD, modified 23 Days ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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Not related to my daily sitting: I had a meeting with a new teacher. This is someone I've actually been on retreat with twice before so we have kept in touch since those retreats. This is also someone who has many more years of experience than myself and has studied or practiced in a few different traditions so they have a well rounded background. This person also took a teacher training course or two offered by other big name dharma folks I respect. I feel that they are honest, down to earth, and their intention (and it's something I've seen myself) is to address their students' needs from a place of skillful means by using whatever tradition, philosophy, or practice seems appropriate at the time. 

There are some aspects of the discussion we had that had me sorta nervous, but those considerations will probably resolve themselves in time and will ultimately prove helpful. 

For the time being, they recommended that I spend more time with heart practices - as in, I should aim to dedicate at least 50% of my time to Metta or other heart practices before switching to vipassana or other 'wisdom' practices. Tonglen was also discussed as a practice to use in the future. At this point in time, I am absolutely okay and even excited to delve into heart practice. For now, I'll keep heart practices at around 50% and see how the next few meetings go - if they suggest more, I'll do more... if not, I'll adjust accordingly. There is more to say, but things are sorta on the horizon for now.

That's all for now! 
AKD, modified 22 Days ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

Posts: 96 Join Date: 1/20/21 Recent Posts
5/29/2021 - Afternoon sit - 50 minutes

Started with 25 minutes of Metta and also ran through the Brahmaviharas. I tried to have it structured in such a way that I'd focus on each Brahmavihara for a while and say the phrases to/for whomever popped into my mind, but I timed it incorrectly and ran through them a bit quickly which means at the end, things were very unstructured. Besides that, the heart practice went well. I could really feel the openess and sense of friendliness in a genuine way.

The body became relaxed and the mind stayed on task. Curiously, I seem to be going through another phase where my body just starts swaying back and forth of its own accord - this happens every few months and will last a few sessions. 

I then switched to lite noting which naturally became resting in attention with the breath. The sense of relaxation carried over and awareness opened up. I didn't fret when getting lost in thought, although that happened very little. Impatience arose later in the sit and there was some pain in my legs, but I think the Metta helped to prime my attitude so there was little aversion in the experience, and more of a curiosity.
AKD, modified 21 Days ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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5/30/2021 - Morning sit - 50 minutes

Started with 25 minutes of Metta and also ran through the Brahmaviharas again. This time I started with a few opening prayers from the workshop I attended in March as well as a reading of the Metta Sutta before running through the Brahmaviharas. In terms of timing, I felt I spent a bit too much time on benevolence and compassion so I spent less time on sympathetic joy and almost no time on equanimity as a result. I'll figure out the balance and timing as I do the practice more. Again, the heart practices were really lovely: I was able to generate the feelings and beneficial tones associated with each Brahmavihara and the mind stayed on task. The body started to sway back and forth as it had yesterday, but the swaying was more intense.

The next 25 minutes were a mix of lite noting and resting in attention with the breath. Due to the swaying of the body, attention was examining the changing posture and straining or loosening of muscles. I was also curious about how the breath was presenting itself with all of this movement. I did go off into mind wandering a few times which were mostly planning thoughts. There was very little impatience. 
AKD, modified 20 Days ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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5/31/2021 - Noon sit - 50 minutes

Didn't feel like sitting, but it seems a bit of a streak is forming so there was motivation to preserve it.

Started with 25 minutes of Brahmaviharas. The timing was a bit better today when trying to give equal weight to each of them. I was able to fabricate and then rest in the various flavors and feeling tones that each of the phrases inspires. I noticed certain people that I was getting hung up on or wanted to ignore, so there are more people in my life to acknowlege in the coming sits which is something to look forward to. I also noticed some lite confusion/resistance related to the heart practices as a whole so I'll just make sure to be aware of the doubts.

The second 25 minutes of the sit, I tried to rest in experience, but I had to rely on lite noting as there was some drowsiness, dullness, and a lot of confusion and some doubt related to the technique or 'waking up' as a whole. There was also a lot of resistance, low level anxiety, and impatience. I kept spacing out and getting distracted so it all felt a bit half-hearted or just blahhh. 

Also, the constant swaying of body also came up during this sit: just swaying back and forth on the cushion for upwards of 30 minutes. It wasn't as intense as yesterday, so maybe it is dissipating. If not, that's okay, it doesn't disturb me at all, but I am still curious about why it happens. It's humorous for sure. 
George S, modified 19 Days ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

Posts: 1774 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Swaying and other kinds of involuntary or semi-voluntary movements are pretty common I think. One theory is that as you relax, old tensions and knots are being released and working their way out of the body.
AKD, modified 19 Days ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

Posts: 96 Join Date: 1/20/21 Recent Posts
Yes, I suppose that's one theory. Could also be energetic rewiring or just that the muscles were imbalanced for a few days. Maybe there is no good explanation at all emoticon Either way, it didn't arise today. 
AKD, modified 19 Days ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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6/1/2021 - Evening sit - 50 minutes

Went to a local park and sat under a tree.

Started with 25 minutes of Brahmaviharas before switching to 25 minutes of lite noting and resting in experience. Not a whole lot to say about the heart practices as that half of the sit was similar to the last few sits.

The wisdom half of the sit was nice as well - I had opportunities to acknowledge states of confusion, boredom, craving, logging/practice thoughts, impatience, and more - but none of these hindrances was overwhelming or too much to handle. There was a bit of faith that arose naturally as a result of bringing awareness to doubts or confusion since that meant I wasn't getting caught up in them. Also, there was a certain playful experimentation around boredom and impatience where I tried to see if I could settle in to those states and find some satisfaction in just sitting - so the boredom or impatience would arise and pass like slow waves depending on my quality of attention.

The involuntary swaying of the last few sessions did not arise during this sit. In fact, I had completely forgotten that I had been swaying at all during my last few sits since the body was so still this time around.
AKD, modified 18 Days ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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6/2/2021 - Evening sit - 50 minutes

Went to a park to meditate again and sat along a stream. As I sat down, I realized that I really didn't feel like meditating.

Started with 25 minutes of Metta/Brahaviharas. Within a few minutes of starting, I could already see the changes in body and mind: relaxation, softening, enthusiasm, faith, friendliness, centeredness, rapture etc. I got really into it and once again I didn't time it quite correctly so I didn't get through all of the Brahmaviharas. I was really surprised when the bell chimed at the 25 minute mark because I was genuinely contented just wishing Metta to everyone. 

The second half of the sit was a bit more challenging. Switching to resting in experience of the breath, I decided to incorporate some lite noting as I felt that experience was a bit muddled. Using a few notes here and there helps with discernment & clarity. Today, there was an intention to check in with the breath more often. The major hindrances were impatience and dullness/drowsiness, but all in all, the mind was centered and was able to acknowledge these hindrances so they were not too much of an issue. 
AKD, modified 17 Days ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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6/3/2021 - Noon sit - 50 minutes

Took a long lunch break during work today to get this sit in as I have somewhere to be early this afternoon. I really considered skipping today and leading up to the sit there was some resistance.

Started with 25 minutes of Brahmavihara practice. Once again, body and mind responded by softening, relaxing, opening, and qualities of rapture and joy were cultivated.

After the heart practice, I switched to lite noting. I didn't sleep well last night so I must have dozed off more than a dozen times during this half of the sit. I was skirting the line between wakefulness and the trippy/disorienting/confusing hypnagogic dream state. I usually caught it within a few seconds of dozing off so I never really fell asleep. The body was relaxed and felt heavy. The swaying came up today, slow and rythmic, even as I slipped into dreams. Towards the end of the sit, the drowsiness started to clear up slightly and I sat in a state of relaxed openess. Impatience wasn't as much of a hindrance, but there is still this underlying 'nagging' feeling, a subtle bit of ill will related to just sitting there and doing nothing.  
AKD, modified 16 Days ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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6/4/2021 - Morning sit - 30 minutes

I figured I should ease into sitting twice a day to make the best use of the new teacher I will be meeting with.

Started with an unspecified amount of heart practice. The mind was unwieldy: still drowsy, but also overstimulated due to the cup of coffee I had upon waking. I kept forgetting the phrases or had trouble focussing on the person who I was trying to wish Metta to. The usual heart practice flavors were not really fabricated either.

I switched resting in the experience of the breath. The body was quite contracted (due to the coffee), and there was plenty of restlessness. I was able to see thought streams and stories created again and again - everytime these thought trains bubbled up I dropped the stories and tuned into the breath/body/sounscape/emotions as non-conceptually as I could. I tried to let the awareness be effortless and explored the concept of 'meditating' by watching what tension arose in response to setting intentions to be 'mindful'.


6/4/2021 - Afternoon sit - 50 minutes

Again, wasn't really feeling it, but a few opening prayers from a recent workshop helped to get me in the right headspace.

I started with 25 minutes of Brahmaviharas. The positive emotions were less pronounced this time around and I'd forget some of the phrases although there was a sense of rapture. The body started to sway quite a lot and my face turned up toward the ceiling at one point so I had to re-adjust my posture and try to cut back the swaying.

The next 25 minutes were interesting. Mindfulness was strong. There was a sense of heightened awareness which allowed me to 'catch and drop' the various stories/thoughts/frames etc. that the mind brought up. This lead to a portion of the sit where the thought space grew quieter and things became less conceptual - it was a bit bizarre and somewhat unsettling/disorienting. Right away, all sorts of thoughts popped up about it and how to explain it so it fell apart. The sit ended in a state of impatience in which the body was very contracted, but awareness was stable enough to take it in which is inspiring. 
AKD, modified 15 Days ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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6/5/2021 - Morning sit - 50 minutes

Again started with some prayers/aspirations before diving into the Brahmaviharas for 25 minutes. The bodily swaying arose once again. Although I was quite drowsy, I was able to stay with the phrases and hold the various recipients in my attention. The feelings of compassion (karuna) and equanimity were more pronounced today. 

During the second half of the sit, I switched to resting in experience. The body continued to sway. The mental images that map sensation onto the body were less pronounced so sensations appeared as vibrating clouds moving along different areas of the abdomen, face, and limbs. Attention/awareness were open and sounds of birds, neighbors, and vehicles were a big portion of the space. I watched the mind dip in and out of the mental images & mental talk and felt how the body reacted (greed/aversion/disinterest) to the various content. Towards the end of the sit, impatience arose, drowsiness and mind wandering became hindrances to being simply present to this 'breath, sound, sway, thought, tension, etc.'
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RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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6/6/2021 - Morning sit - 50 minutes

Started with 25 minutes of Brahmaviharas before switching to lite noting and then eventually resting in experience.

Overall, this sit was very similar to previous sits of the last week so I will just leave it at that. Things are going well, I'd say. 
AKD, modified 13 Days ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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6/7/2021 - Evening sit - 60ish minutes

After a year of virtual Zoom sits, the local Zen group was finally able to meet. It was good to be back with so many other meditators.

Decided to skip the Metta tonight in favor of 'resting in open awareness with the breath' as that is sort of the method taught by this Zen teacher. 

The session was sorta blahhhh - we had to wear masks so there was quite a bit of moisture due to the breath and sweat. The room was also hot and there was a massive window fan next to where I sat which drowned out any other sounds. There was also a sense that breathing was a bit harder due to the mask. Additionally, I was just mentally a bit tired so I started to get drowsy. Towards the end, I was getting more and more off track and falling into mind wandering. The body was generally relaxed, except the discomfort brought on by the heat and some emotional arisings. Although the sit didn't seem productive, mindfulness seemed to be heightened for the rest of the evening.
AKD, modified 12 Days ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

Posts: 96 Join Date: 1/20/21 Recent Posts
6/8/2021 - Morning sit - 50 minutes

Started with 25 minutes of Brahmaviharas again. The mind was a bit unwieldy this morning - I was forgetful of the phrases and wasn't really able to cultivate the lovely physical and mental states I associate with these heart qualities. My timing was also off so I only ran through 3 of the 4 qualities. There was some resistance to doing it this morning.

After the heart practice, I shifted to 'resting in attention with the breath'. Awareness opened up and the body relaxed slightly. There were many melancholic emotions this morning: various forms of sadness, fear, guilt, shame, worries, anxieties, core issues, etc. all bubbled up. I'd get ensnared in a thought loop or pattern, realize it, come out of it, and watch the way the tensions in the body dissolved as I tuned back into the moment. Rinse and repeat. There was an overarching patience that allowed for sitting with a heavy heart, in fact, this sit was particularly devoid of impatience even after sitting for a while. 


6/8/2021 - Evening sit - 30 minutes

A tired, dozy sit. Practiced just resting with the breath. Early into the sit, the hypnogogic dream imagery started pulling me away from the breath. Back and forth between waking up, refocussing, and then slowly losing the momentum. Rinse and repeat. Trying my best to drop the stories and really tune into experience in a nonceptual sort of way.  
AKD, modified 11 Days ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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6/9/2021 - Evening sit - 50 minutes

Had a discussion with my teacher last night. They were thrilled to hear about the positive experience I've had incorporating opening/closing prayers and the heart practice into my sits these last 2 weeks. So heart practice will continue to be a feature of my practice. Additionally, we discussed different avenues for the wisdom practice I should do, and we agreed that I should start practicing 'samatha without an object' which is really just Shinzen Young's 'Do Nothing' meditation or Michael Taft's 'Dropping the Ball' meditation. I've actually been incorporating this into my sits and daily life the last few months anyway so it feels like a natural step to cultivate a foundation with this practice.

Tonight I did a guided meditation ("Let Go of Grasping") by Michael Taft as a refresher.

The meditation was quite lovely - restful, expansive, open, panoramic, clear, rejuvinating. There is this energetic sense that awareness/mind is expanding outward while including the center. It's a different flavor of experience from trying to tether the mind to an object or to note discrete phenomena. There were also bouts of restlessness, confusion, craving, planning, etc. that arose which was really great to experiment with - there were many opportunities to become familiar with the physical and mental qualities of release/letting go, opening, and relaxation in response to noticing grasping. 
AKD, modified 7 Days ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #1

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6/10/2021 - Noon sit - 50 minutes

Started with 25 minutes of the Brahmaviharas again. Another session where the various qualities of the heart were fabricated and it was effortless & rapturous. Ironically, I broke into tears during the 'Equanimity' portion as I was overwhelmed by gratitude/love/acceptance. 

Switching to 'just sitting' was immediately spacious and relaxing similar to yesterday's session. Towards the end of the sit, there was a bit of impatience and also a fear that arose in response to the spaciousness. It felt like I was going to get lost or evaporate into the space and disappear which lead to some sense of immediate dread. I tried to drop that story and do a lite investigation into the sensations of fear which then brought on some equanimity. 



I will not be updating this thread for the next few days as I am going to be camping. I still intend to get my daily sit in, or I might have to break it up into smaller sessions. Either way, I intend to keep practicing. I really want to keep practicing. 


6/10/2021 - Evening sit ~30ish minutes

Arrived to the campsite before my friends so I used the opportunity to practice open awareness with eyes open. I remember this sit being pretty relaxed and awareness 'felt' expansive. This sense of presence and expanisve awareness carried over into the rest of the evening even during interactions. 

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