AKD Daily Log #2

AKD, modified 1 Month ago.

AKD Daily Log #2

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A continuation of my previous practice log found here: https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/22251318

The goal for this log is to jot down a brief report after each sit once or twice 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.

I'm currently intertested in heart practices and awareness or nondual practices. Maybe this log will reflect that to a degree. We shall see how it all unfolds.

Thank you for reading. May my daily(ish) reports here be of benefit to others on the path. May we all practice consistently (daily, without heroics), may we all awaken, may our practice benefit ourselves and others. The work we are doing here is very special and I hope that we never lose sight of that even when things feel flat or mundane. Much love. 
AKD, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #2

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This post is on the previous log as well, but I think it's fine to post here as well as a sort of continuation. Thank you. 

6/15/2021- Evening sit - 50 minutes

Started with 25 minutes of Brahmavihara practice. The fabrications of the mental/physical manifestations of the heart qualities was available today. I was especially drawn to compassion during this session. Something else interesting was the feeling which accompanied jumping into different 'categories' of people in my life. Wishing people in my family good wishes, then switching to a friends group, then to a different friends group, then to people I knew in high school, then to coworkers, and so on. There was a bit of a shock entering into each of these groups/catgories like I was jumping from a hot tub into a cool swimming pool. Just funny and interesting to see the categories and how a sense of self forms in relation to who I am interacting with or wishing Metta to. 

The next 25 minutes, I sat in open awareness. I remember there being a certain amount of confusion. Also, plenty of conceptualization about sensate phenomena that I tried to recognize or drop as appropriate (sound of chirping = mental image of birds). The 'dropping the ball' meditation or 'letting go of grasping' has been very interesting. I guess the confusion comes from the feeling that 'I'/attention/awareness has to go back to something. It used to be going back to noting, or going back to the breath/body, but now it's sorta like going back to the sense of restful openess. However, restful openess, although available in the moment, feels like another object conceptually - like it has higher status beyond 'just this thing occuring'. Why go back to anything?



6/15/2021 - Evening sit - 20 minutes

After the above sit, I stretched my legs and walked to a different part of the park where I had been meditating and tried another guided meditation by Angelo DiLullo on his Simply Awake app. Was fun. Currently I am naturally gravitating towards the open awarness and non dual practices so this is all very reaffirming but also redundant in some sense. Good stuff!
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RE: AKD Daily Log #2

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6/16/2021 - Afternoon sit - 50 minutes

Started with opening prayers and did 25 minutes of Brahmaviharas. The session was pretty average for the most part: there was some sense of enthusiasm for Metta and Karuna. Otherwise, there was this sense of open awareness/spaciousness which made the phrases and wishes less intimate/close. It was sorta hard to keep in focus.

Finished up with 25 minutes of open awareness/dropping the ball meditation. After the meditation, I also listened to a discussion about attention that had a guided meditation in it to a degree. The effects off cushion have been quite pronounced these last few hours: awareness feels vast, sensations feel intimate (they just are where they are as themselves), thoughts are just more natural arising phenomena in the space usually conceptualization about other phenomena. Currently there are sensations of anxiety in the body as the sense of spaciousness is a bit disconcerting. On one hand, there is relaxation into this vastness, but it feels like 'I' am disolving into it - that sense of getting lost in it is causing some fear. Or maybe that's just more conceptualization.  
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RE: AKD Daily Log #2

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6/17/2021 - Morning sit - 25ish minutes

Started the day with 2 guided meditations from the 'Simply Awake' app.


6/17/2021 - Afternoon sit - 50 minutes

A wave of grief hit me before the sit so there were a lot of tears during the Metta and Karuna. The heavy emotions were coming up in waves so I switched to open awareness a few minutes early to better connect with the emotions. Ordinarily I would have ignored the sadness and held back any tears, but lately I've been trying to open myself to 'allowing' more of my emotions to unfold as they arise as opposed to bottling them up. This leads to strange emotional outbursts at times like crying when I am in a good mood or really jiving with a song for instance, or grieving losses that haven't yet happened or happened years ago. I wouldn't do this sort of thing amongst other people, obviously, but it still feels a bit foreign to cry when there is 'no real reason' to cry - or reacting to events in my life that are so far gone that they should have been processed by now. 

Open awareness and dropping the concepts again and again lead to a point of spacious abidding. 
AKD, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #2

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6/18/2021 - No formal sit, decided to give myself the day off. 
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RE: AKD Daily Log #2

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6/19/2021 - Noon sit - 30 minutes

Did 2 guided meditations from the Simply Awake app.


6/19/2021 - Evening sit - 55  minutes

Started with 25 minutes of Brahmaviharas and then switched over to open awareness. I am feeling less inspired to do the heart practices at the moment and the opening prayers also feel a bit flat. I am having some trouble maintaining the phrases and holding people in my mind's eye. Drowsiness is a factor, but there is also this automatic opening of awareness and resting in experience when I meditate so trying to focus on doing the Metta practice feels effortful or constricting.

Open awareness is just so enjoyable. There is a lot of peace and equanimity at the moment and sitting this way feels nourishing and restful. I was getting a bit drowsy so that was a bit of a hindrance. Otherwise, the only intention is to drop conceptualization and return to and rest in concious experience. I am noticing as well that there is a natural curiosity that litely investigates or inquires about aspects of experience. This sense of rest and openess is also showing up more and more often throughout my day. 
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RE: AKD Daily Log #2

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5/20/2021 - Morning sit - 15 minutes

Started the day with a guided meditation from the Simply Awake app. 


5/20/2021 - Afternoon sit - 55 minutes

Started with 25 minutes of Metta before switching to open awareness. Metta went alright: I was able to feel the mental and physical aspects of it and its various flavors as I went through a wide ranging roster of people in my life.

Open awareness was challenging. I've been extremely anxious all day today - almost on the verge of a panic attack at some points. This anxiety made its way into the sit. I kept getting pulled into this imaginary scenario and trying to weigh the pros and cons of how it would play out. I was also sorta drowsy/exhausted and the music blaring from the neighbors next door was giving me sensory overload. I set intentions to rest into this as best as I could. 

Even now, typing this up, I am feeling sorta panicky, nauseous, drowsy/exhausted, and just all around blechhh. Think I need to lay down.  
Sam Gentile, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #2

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Open awareness was challenging. I've been extremely anxious today - almost on the verge of a panic attack at some points. This anxiety made its way into the sit. I kept getting pulled into this imaginary scenario and trying to weigh the pros and cons of how it would play out. I was also sorta drowsy/exhausted and the music blaring from the neighbors next door was giving me sensory overload. I set intentions to rest into this as best as I could. 
  
I used to suffer fro m panic attacks. I think the source is what you said "trying to weigh the pros and cons of how it  would play out." Does that matter now? Or it is of imaginary future that may not happen. Drop the thoughts.


Even now, typing this up, I am feeling sorta panicky, nauseous, drowsy/exhausted, and just all around blechhh. Think I need to lay down.  

Do what calms you but this is all manufactured dukkha. It is imper,enant and will go away.
AKD, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #2

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Hey Sam, I see what you're pointing to, but I'd argue it's a bit more nuanced than that. Otherwise 'dropping thought' would be the answer and treatment for all sorts of mental health issues which just isn't the case, and going to therapy would be unnecessary. That said, maybe that's how the awakened, realized mind would handle it, but that's speculation on my part. 

The body was already in a sense of panic before the storylines & weighing pros/cons arose. Panic attacks in my experience involve physical symptoms such as feeling dizzy/woozy, nauseous, exhausted, feeling hypoglycemic or faint, body sensations in the abdomen and face related to anxiety/doom etc. In this case, the body was in a state of panic with varying degrees of the afore mentioned symptoms and the mind started spinning stories - it wasn't the other way around. Sometimes the tail wags the dog.

My intention and current practice is to 'drop the ball' which is a technique that I see you using quite often as well. I'm familiar with it and employed the technique repeatedly during this sit as well. The process of learning to be with experience instead of going into an avoidance pattern is pretty much what the entire path is - but that's why we sit and that's an opportunity this sit presented me with. You see in this case, every time I dropped the story, I found myself in a world of disconcerting physical sensations related to the 'fight or flight' phenomenon - sometimes that biological process is a bit more intense than what we are able to comfortably 'rest' into or to stay with. Again, it's part of the learning. 

Thank you for the advice & commiseration, it is appreciated! 
Sam Gentile, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #2

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AKD
Hey Sam, I see what you're pointing to, but I'd argue it's a bit more nuanced than that. Otherwise 'dropping thought' would be the answer and treatment for all sorts of mental health issues which just isn't the case, and going to therapy would be unnecessary. That said, maybe that's how the awakened, realized mind would handle it, but that's speculation on my part. 

Yay, I think I sold you short on that answer and haven't got back to respond. Sorry. Yes, when you're in the throes of a full on physical and mental panic attack that is literally making you sick, its not easy to drop the thoughts. The part  I was refeering to was about not getting there at all. It was your trigger statement "trying to weigh the pros and cons of how it  would play out." That's future thinking and future worrying can cause panic attacks. The future doesn't matter now.

I was just looking at my Dzogchen material and this quote lept out. Tell me if it helps. 
“When a past thought has ceased and a future thought has yet to arise, is there not a gap? An experience of nowness that is vivid, pristine, clear, and awake? This bare freshness has never changed, even a tiny bit. Ho! This is pure awareness.”- Dudjom Rinpoche
The body was already in a sense of panic before the storylines & weighing pros/cons arose. 
Ahh, so it was already in motion, then it is hard to drop the ball but try to get your mind off the storyline, distract it. If you note, noting all the sensations that are happening, can help.

My intention and current practice is to 'drop the ball' which is a technique that I see you using quite often as well. I'm familiar with it and employed the technique repeatedly during this sit as well. The process of learning to be with experience instead of going into an avoidance pattern is pretty much what the entire path is - but that's why we sit and that's an opportunity this sit presented me with. You see in this case, every time I dropped the story, I found myself in a world of disconcerting physical sensations related to the 'fight or flight' phenomenon - sometimes that biological process is a bit more
intense than what we are able to comfortably 'rest' into or to stay with. Again, it's part of the learning. 

Yes, I practice dropping the ball technique and trying to drop thoughts.

Thank you for the advice & commiseration, it is appreciated! 
AKD, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #2

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Hey Sam, thank you for the quote. Good stuff.
Antonio Horn, modified 10 Days ago.

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Good stuff.
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6/21/2021 - Afternoon sit - 15 minutes

Guided meditation from the Simply Awake app.


6/21/2021 - Evening sit - 60 minutes

Sat with the Zen group. Practiced open awareness for the entire session. Initially, there was a a nice sense of openess and ease. A lite enjoyment of simplicity pervaded. After about 15 minutes, mental images and craving started to arise. This resulted in an intense restlessness and impatience. I decided to shift gears and went back to the body to investigate while trying my best to drop mental proliferation/conceptualization any time I noticed it.

The physical sensations of impatience were spread across the gut, chest, throat, and forehead. I tried to see where the main 'knot' was, but while trying to get a good, stable look at it, it became sort of whispy and hard to locate. There were all these little zingy aspects to it like coolness or electricity and it no longer felt like a solid lump. It did not disappear though - the sense of unease was still very much present in experience. I also tried to look for the aversion associated with all of this and that was hard to locate as well.... yet I still knew I was imptient and adverse. Eventually, I did end up tuning out and going into thought. I tried my best just to return again and again to impatience so that I could really embody and inhabit the emotion. I also played around with going back to open awareness to see how the experience would change. 
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RE: AKD Daily Log #2

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5/22/2021 - Evening sit - 50 minutes

Before the sit, there was a resistance pattern that cropped up. I decided to skip the heart practices in favor of sitting in open awareness so that I could meet the resistance pattern and investigate it.

Once I got to the cushion, however, things relaxed, ease and openess reigned - the resistance pattern seemingly disappeared. There were points in which mental images and cravings arose, but it wasn't as intense as yesterday's sit. Same with impatience - it was pretty manageable. Overall, I was tired so I didn't have the energy to be impatient. I kept dozing off. Repeating the cycle of falling into confusing, hypnogogic imagery and then waking up to the sounds & body sensations that were immediately present. 

Other than that, I set intentions to drop any mental proliferation, to see thoughts as thoughts, and to experience any underlying emotions driving mental proliferation. 
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6/23/2021 - Evening sit - 50 minutes

Started with 25 minutes of Brahmaviharas before switching to open awareness.

Heart practice was pretty standard - I was able to fabricate some mild qualities of the heart and stayed reasonably on task. There was a sense of rapture.

Open awareness was effortless. I have been tired/exhausted most of the day due to little sleep. Even so, I didn't doze off and dullness was rather lite. The sense of ease, settledness, and openess was so nourishing and almost decadent. Towards the final 10 minutes, I saw more mental proliferation arising so I took at as a sign to investigate any potential resistance or emotions. Sure enough, some lite impatience was in the background. Often times when impatience arises, I start to try and calm myself or rest back into the moment - but I noticed that this is a resistance pattern of sorts as well in an attempt to remedy impatience. Dropping mental proliferation and getting curious about the sounds in the environment opened things back up and there was a sense of intimacy and rapture once the sit ended. 
Sam Gentile, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #2

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AKD
6/23/2021 - Evening sit - 50 minutes

Started with 25 minutes of Brahmaviharas before switching to open awareness.

Open awareness is such a nice practice.

Heart practice was pretty standard - I was able to fabricate some mild qualities of the heart and stayed reasonably on task. There was a sense of rapture.
Rapture? I don't know about you but usually when I've had rapture its been tied to major events like A+P, SE. Do you think you had an event? Exciting!


Open awareness was effortless. I have been tired/exhausted most of the day due to little sleep. Even so, I didn't doze off and dullness was rather lite. The sense of ease, settledness, and openess was so nourishing and almost decadent. Towards the final 10 minutes, I saw more mental proliferation arising so I took at as a sign to investigate any potential resistance or emotions. Sure enough, some lite impatience was in the background. Often times when impatience arises, I start to try and calm myself or rest back into the moment - but I noticed that this is a resistance pattern of sorts as well in an attempt to remedy impatience. Dropping mental proliferation and getting curious about the sounds in the environment opened things back up and there was a sense of intimacy and rapture once the sit ended. 

Excellent overall
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RE: AKD Daily Log #2

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Hey Sam, in the chapter about the Seven Factors of Awakening, Daniel uses the plural term 'raptures' when referring to strange meditation side effects. He uses the singular 'rapture' which relates to joy, pleasure, and enthusiasm. 

The way that I am using rapture here, I am speaking of the latter (singular form): it's an overall enjoyable experience and the mind does the task with rapt attention. It's enthralling. This is actually quite a common experience for me at the moment when I do heart practice or open awareness practice. Nothing crazy or strange or really worth trying to map on the PoI.
George S, modified 1 Month ago.

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Nice!
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6/24/2021 - Evening sit - 50 minutes 

Started with 25 minutes of Brahmaviharas before swithing to open awareness (this is my current practice format at the moment).

Again, the heart practice went well. Karuna and Mudita were a bit more pronounced during this session. Drowsiness was a bit of a hindrance so I lost the thread a few times.

Open awareness required a bit more attentiveness today. I was sitting out in the hot sun so there was some resistance and discomfort which arose. It gave me an opportunity to do some investigation into the sensations, the conceptualization, and the feelings related to aversion. There were also a lot of planning thoughts and some annoyance related to things that I need to accomplish tonight. Besides that, ease and openess also arose. Towards the end of the session there was a bit of impatience which again gave me an opportunity to investigate before returning and resting in experience. 
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6/25/2021 - Evening sit - 25 minutes

Decided to sort of give myself a day off by doing a guided meditation from the Simply Awake app and then sitting for 5 minutes in open awareness to let things settle. 
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6/26/2021 - Noon sit - 60 minutes

Started with a guided meditation from the Simply Awake app and then sat in open awareness for 40 minutes.

There has been a concern that's been weighing heavily on my mind all morning. As a result, this concern kept arising during the sit and was acompanied by catastrophizing, worrying, planning, self-soothing, etc. There was a certain guilt associated with letting go of the concern and returning to the meditation.

​​​​​​​When I was able to drop the sticky thoughts, awareness would become spacious and relaxation would set in. In this way, I flip flopped between states of anxiety & contraction, states of ease & relief, and even states where I was relaxed in the anxiety. What little impatience arose was manageable. I'm finding that resting in the auditory field has been really helped to open awareness up and settle the internal turbulence.


6/26/2021 - Evening sit - 20 minutes

Did another guided meditation from the Simply Awake app. Helped me get in touch with the bodily manifestation of anxiety and impatience that I am currently presented with. 
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6/27/2021 - Morning sit - 60 minutes

Hiked along a beatiful river and set my cushion on a boulder on the edge of the water. Practiced open awareness: contacting the sounds of the water, the wind, and chirping of birds as well as sensations in the body. 

I had a few sips of coffee before the sit, so some anxiety arose due to the caffeine. I was then pulled into various thought loops: some were related to craving/wanting/excitement/impatience and others were related to fear/dread/avoidance/worry, etc. In both cases, there was a lot of planning about how to create a self or create circumstances that could get me what I wanted or help me to avoid what I dreaded. There was a lot of mental contraction into these stories/imagining/planning and the body was constricted as well. The sense of dread or excitement manifested as various unpleasant sensations in the gut, chest, and throat.

While these various loops bubbled up, awareness was there to meet them and drop them until I'd forget and tune out. Attention was rapidly jumping back-and-forth between the mental stories and the sounds of the river where I was sitting.   

Overall getting to and staying on the cushion for the full hour wasn't an issue, but keeping 'the moment' in awareness during the sit was a challenge.  


6/27/2021 - Evening sit - 25 minutes

Did a guided meditation from the Simply Awake app. This particular session had some extremely heavy neo-advita vibes which left me really confused more than anything else. It was pretty funny to watch the confusion and resistance and intellectualizing and such. There were certain pointers that were helpful though, and those particular pointers sort of jived with what was going on in the moment. After the guided session ended, I sat in open awareness for a few minutes and set intentions to sit without any conceptualization just to let things settle.  
Sam Gentile, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #2

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Hi AKD,
Did a guided meditation from the Simply Awake app. This particular session had some extremely heavy neo-advita vibes which left me really confused more than anything else.

Did you mean the Waking Up app or is there another one called Simply Awake? I it's Waking App, I use that and I get confused because Sam Harris history is in Vippassana until he he met Talku Urgygen Rinpoche for Dzogchen and some neo-advita and he seems to still be struggling with his pont of view IMHO.
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RE: AKD Daily Log #2

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Hey Sam, this is a different app called 'Simply Awake'. It was created on behalf of a gentleman name Angelo DiLullo. It's free and all of the guided meditations were recorded and created by Angelo. You can find out more about him in this thread: https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/22865048

Much of what Angelo discusses in the videos linked in the above thread has resonated with me so I figured I'd give the app a try and am currently working my way through his recently released book: "Awake: It's Your Turn"
Sam Gentile, modified 1 Month ago.

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Thanks for the pointer. I'll check it out.
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The videos and book really resonated with me as well! I've incorporated bits from them into my practice in a way that seems to be good.
AKD, modified 1 Month ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #2

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Nice! Cool to see that some folks are trying out the methods and experimenting in their own practices!
Sam Gentile, modified 1 Month ago.

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AKD
Hey Sam, this is a different app called 'Simply Awake'. It was created on behalf of a gentleman name Angelo DiLullo. It's free and all of the guided meditations were recorded and created by Angelo. You can find out more about him in this thread: https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/22865048

I was looking but found lots and lots of stuff on his site such that I don't know where to begin. Do I begin with the app or the book? Or is there a specific video?

Much of what Angelo discusses in the videos linked in the above thread has resonated with me so I figured I'd give the app a try and am currently working my way through his recently released book: "Awake: It's Your Turn"

​​​​​​​Sounds intriguing!
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RE: AKD Daily Log #2

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Hey Sam, I have looked through his website, but I haven't found much on there that is relevant for me personally. I'm still exploring though.

This is the video that got me interested in him which is linked in the thread I mentioned before: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLtDXk35AWY&t=1624s

As of now, there are 6 videos in the series where Angelo and 'ZDoggMD' discuss awakening and practice, etc. I've found these discussions to be inspiring and helpful even though not everything they discuss resonates with me - and I am somewhat turned off by the host of the podcast, but that's my own bias. Maybe listen to some of the discussion before you decide to buy the book? See if you get a good feeling about it the way you may have felt when listening to interviews with Daniel Ingram. 

The app is alright... I haven't tried many guided meditation apps so I have nothing to compare it to. I'd say that Michael Taft's non-dual series of guided meditations is probably better than the Simply Awake app. When Angelo does the guided instructions, he really doesn't take a break from speaking so there is no opportunity to sort of hone in on or go deep with an instruction. On some level, it almost feels like he is trying to speak to the subconcious mind. Either way, I figured it would be worth it to try since I liked his discussions so much. And hey, it's free so why not?
Sam Gentile, modified 1 Month ago.

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Thanks. I left you a thank you note on my log.
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Nice! Well I hope you enjoy the new material and find a way to make it useful in your practice!
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6/28/2021 - Evening sit - 70 minutes

Started with a 20 minute guided meditation from the Simply Awake app and then did my usual 25 minutes each of Brahmaviharas and open awareness.

The 20 minute guided session went alright from what I remember, but I can't remember any specifics at this point.

The Brahmaviharas were okay. I was reasonably engaged and there was some interest in exploring the reactions I had towards the neutral people and folks I'd consider to be 'difficult'. Something that's become very apparent in the last week or two, is that there is less 'heart' in the heart practices at the moment. About 3 weeks ago, I was extremely inspired and motivated to practice the Brahmaviharas and this also affected how strong the heart qualities were when I fabricated them during meditation. If I had to put it on a scale, 3 weeks ago I was at an 8, and now I am at a 3 or 4 in terms of the strength of these factors. I think my motivations and interests changed, but it's alright. This sort of thing is normal. Either way, I have a meeting with my teacher tomorrow so I'll mention it.

Open awareness went well: today there was a lot of impatience to work with which gave me opportunities to explore the various thought loops and body sensations and emotions. Today, I started feeling into the bodily sense of the emotions in the abdomen: impatience was sort of located in the chest and throat as a tension. In the lower sternum and upper gut, there was an interesting feeling of coolness that was sort of hiding behind the impatience. This coolness felt like disappointment - like being bummed out after something completely anticlimactic. Impatience just being a cover for some underlying disappointment. It was interesting to try and discern these physical feelings and see if any thought loops came up. Either way, a good session which did lead to some states of openess and relaxation, and although the mind wandered here and there, it was minimal. Often, thoughts just appeared as thoughts in the space of open awareness. Other hindrances such as leg pain were also present, but all in all there was a lot of equanimity and none of it felt like a huge deal or struggle. 
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6/29/2021 - Evening sit - 50 minutes

A bit less motivation going into this sit. Started with 25 minutes of Brahmaviharas before switching to open awareness.

Overall, the mind was a bit unwieldy during this session. I just patiently returned to the object of meditation and tried to foster some curiosity whenever I could. 
AKD, modified 1 Month ago.

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6/30/2021 - After noon sit - 15 minutes

Did a short guided meditation app from the Simply Awake app. It was laid back and I felt really refreshed as a result.


I meant to do an actual afternoon session, but life provided me with a nice little synchronicity: I ran into a friend while running errands. He pulled up behind me at a stop sign and I popped my head out the door to say hello and 30 minutes later we were embarking on a hike together so I got home late.


Besides that, I spoke with my teacher last night and I discussed the fact that I've been less interested/enthusiastic about the heart practices and that my interest/enjoyment in/of open awareness & self inquiry has been growing. The result of the discussion was that I should practice the heart practices when I feel called to do so and that awareness & inquiry practice will make up the majority of my formal sitting as these practices go hand in hand. My teacher is a huge fan of inquiry which is really lucky because we linked up right around the time my interests started to change. For years, I was super stubborn about diverging from noting, but in the last 4-6 months, the direct path/open awareness/dropping conceptualization/resting in experience methods have been just so nice and this development feels entirely natural. I'm excited to see what and how things unfold from here. 
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7/1/2021 - Skipped

I was stuck at work until 9:30pm so I didn't sit.


7/2/2021 - Afternoon sit - 20 minutes

Did a guided meditation from the Simply Awake app. I don't have much time to sit today as I gotta get on the road.


​​​​​​​I may not be able to sit tomorrow or Sunday. Very very busy weekend ahead. 
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7/3/2021 - Morning sit - 35 minutes

Managed to wake up early and do a sit with my friend in our hotel room. I practiced open awareness. There was a welling up of saddness that arose. I set my intention to relax into the felt experience while also holding the thought loops in gentle contact. I experienced a sense of frustration and also feeling really bummed, and then in response to that, a wave of motivation to improve myself in order to replace the loss of the thing that was producing saddness. Towards the end of the session, awareness was a bit more open and relaxation arose naturally.


7/3/2021 - Afternoon session - 20 minutes

After running around all morning and afternoon, we had some time to rest and recoup in the hotel room where I did another guided meditation and some general mindfulness practice while lying down. 


7/4/2021 - Skipped

I didn't do a formal sit today, but my friend and I had a six hour car ride. We discussed some dharma stuff, but I also took the opportunity to rest in experience, to see planning thoughts, to feel into my sense of exhaustion, to feel into the sense of impatience associated with a long car ride, to see where the body was tangled, to tune into the shifting colors and forms in the visual space, to open to the whole stereo field, and to drop concepts again and again. Playing with the impatience was especially interesting: I could see how there were many phantasies or memories about the weekend that I wanted to get lost in, instead of just keeping a pulse on the current moment of the car ride - and the body sensations associated with this were unpleasant but also manageable. It may have not been a formal session, but we had time and a lot of material to work with so in that sense it was still fruitful practice. 
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RE: AKD Daily Log #2

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7/5/2021 - Evening sit - 35 minutes

Started with a guided meditation that brought me into a state of open awareness. Sat for another 15 minutes after that. 

I meant to sit longer, but the impatience was really strong and the motivation to continue wasn't there. Oh well! 
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RE: AKD Daily Log #2

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7/6/2021 - Skipped

Life got in the way. I was able to do about an hour of informal practice while stuck in a traffic jam. 


7/7/2021 - Morning sit - 30 minutes

Practiced open awareness. Due to the coffee I had before the sit, there was a sense of restlessness in the body and many planning thoughts relate to my day and the rest of the week. I set intentions to drop any proliferation and rest in the moment. Body sensations and sounds were especially interesting to explore and inquire into. 


7/7/2021 - Afternoon sit - 30 minutes

Did a guided meditation from the Simply Awake app before sitting in open awareness.


7/7/2021 - Night sit - 50 minutes

Decided to play around with anapanasati today. I tried experimenting with the 'dropping the ball' tehnique, but instead of resting in experience, I'd go back to the breath. I wanted to see how 'trying to concentrate' would feel in comparison to letting go/dropping the ball. I was able to stick with it for a while but eventually interest was lost, contraction grew stronger, and mind wandering dominate.
At that point, I switched back to the open awareness that I've been practicing. I was drawn to the field of sound, in this case the sound of the air conditioner drowned out anything else. I noticed how as I sit there taking in the sound, sometimes it seems sorta chunky or somehow comes in waves - instead of the mind stitching it together into a continuous signal. Sometimes sound is almost silent in a way which is also odd. Sitting in open awareness was reasonably relaxing. I was somewhat impatient during the entire sit, I think an after effect of the coffee that I had this afternoon, so I am just happy I stayed on the cushion. All in all, I got in a lot of formal and informal practice today. 
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RE: AKD Daily Log #2

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7/8/2021 - Morning sit - 45 minutes

I practiced open awareness during this sit and tried my best to drop the ball again and again. I think due to the coffee I had consumed, and also the fact that I was planing on driving into the office, there was a lot of mental activity in the form of planning, worrying, future thuoughts, etc. There was also a lack of motivation so I kept getting pulled into distraction. There was also frustration associated with having to start over again and again, but this wasn't such a huge deal as it's pretty normal and happens on occassion. 


7/9/2021 - Took the day off


7/10/2021 - Noon sit - 50 minutes

Started with a guided meditation from the Simply Awake app before switching to open awareness. The guided meditation was helpful at point, but there were quite a few times where I tuned out and stopped listening before realizing and coming back to the instruction. Again, heavy vibes associated with 'no where to go, nothing to achieve, no meditator meditating, only this sound/thought/sight/emotion/etc.

Open awareness was average. There was a sense of examining sounds, sights, or body sensations in a way where I was trying to notice a self or duality in experience. This sometimes lead to small perspectives that were somewhat nondual or intimate in a way. I also noticed concepts arising in conjunction with experience: sounds of birds and the thoughts about birds, or sensations on the face and the mental images of face or the feeling of 'mine'. There was an intention to drop those sorts of framing concepts to get a more 'raw' look at experiences.

Later in the sit, I noticed that emotionally, something wasn't quite right. It felt like there was some worry off to the side that was gently tugging at me but I was overlooking it. I turned toward it and acknowledged the thoughts and opened myself up to the fear, anxiety, self-consciousness, worries, remedying, etc. It was all pretty gut wrenching and the physical sensations were unpleasant: coolness in the gut and chest, constriction, tightness in the throat, and so on. When the sit ended, I was in a state of apathetic motivation in which I felt like I need to fix myself and my life to avoid situations like this. 
AKD, modified 24 Days ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #2

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7/11/2021 - Afternoon sit - 40 minutes

Practiced open awareness. I wanted to sit for 60 minutes, but my heart wasn't in it. I wasn't really motivated or interested in exploring the various hindrances of impatience and such. Although mindfulness/concentration was average, I really just felt like ignorance was the main flavor of the sit. I wanted to tune out. 

At the beginning of the sit, there was plenty of bodily anxiety as a result of having a strong afternoon coffee. There was also a sense of exhaustion since I had been doing chores all day and I had planned to do more than I ended up getting done. There was also plenty of craving for a few beers, and to cook a nice dinner. I tried to interest myself in all of these experiences, to feel into the body and to see the emotions clearly, but I ducked out of the sit earlier than I had planned. 


As of the last few weeks, much of the inspiration and genuine engagement that I have had with practice has eroded. A few weeks back I was really inspired by a modest intention of cultivating some qualities of the bodhisattva to benefit the people in my life, but for some reason the idea of being a 'good Buddhist' has been evaporating. I don't consider myself a Buddhist, and in some sense I am sorta wary of religion at all. I've started to conceptualize awakening as a human potential which is entirely secular instead of Buddhist IP. The motivations that inspired me to be a loving, embodyment of Metta and self awareness seem sort of superficial anyway: I wanted people in my presence to feel at ease and loved so that I could feel okay about myself or to validate my spiritual quest.

At the moment, I am more mindful during the day, and even though I am still dealing with the same level of reactivity, it doesn't sting as bad. It all feels rather lethargic honestly. I'm not sure equanimity is supposed to be lethargic, but anytime I see myself caught up in a craving or anything, I kinda say to myself "Ah well. That's just how it is I guess" and I often give-in to it. Part of me thinks I need to work more on concentration and sensory clarity, but the lethargic part of myself is wondering why I should bother at all - it's all just worries/doubts and feeling self concious so why engage those doubts? 
George S, modified 24 Days ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #2

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Nice insights about validation. Could be an interesting area to explore more deeply, maybe related to the worries/doubts.
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RE: AKD Daily Log #2

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Of course, a lot of my motivation to pursue things in life has been driven by the need for validation. It's an ongoing path of discovery. 
AKD, modified 23 Days ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #2

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7/12/2021 - Evening sit - 60 minutes

Sat with the local Zen group again. Although there were only 4 of us, it was nice to be in a room with some folks who are interested in this sort of thing. 

I remember the sit being sort of a confusing and indecisive one. I was sitting there wondering what I was supposed to be doing or why it was helpful or if I was doing it correctly. Again and again I dropped the ball related to these conceptual questions and kept tuning into the sounds/sensations/sights/urges/emotions occuring in the room and cultivated a bit of curiosity towards the experiencer/experienced/awareness. Towards the end of the sit, things settled down and there was a confidence in just 'now'. This sensation, this sound, this mental image, this narrative, etc. 

After the sit, the instructor gave a talk, and although nothing about it was super revealing or new, something seemed to resonate deeper down. It was subtle. 
AKD, modified 23 Days ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #2

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7/13/2021 - Morning sit - 60 minutes

Practiced open awareness. Overall, a lot came up during this sit so it was productive in the sense that I had many opportunities to drop the ball and return & rest in experience. Due to the coffee that I had, the body was in a contracted, wired/caffeinated states. Many future thoughts arose: planning, worrying, strategizing, etc. When dropping the conceptualizations, I would go back to the body and investigate the emotions present: anxiety, motivation, restlessness, hopefulness, frustration, regret, etc. 

Towards the end of the sit, some of the mental proliferation started to mellow out and relaxation was available. 
AKD, modified 21 Days ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #2

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7/14/2021 - Night sit - 60 minutes

Was pretty exhausted before sitting and wasn't sure if I'd quit early. I practiced open awareness. Once things settled down and I transitioned into the sit, things opened up. There was relaxation and clarity. Mindfulness was pretty consistent. As the sit wore on, I was starting to get hypnogogic imagery as drowsiness increased. I never really dozed off, but I did allow myself to go into the thought stream which became vivid as the body sensations and sounds felt distant. I stayed there for a while, but eventually decided to cultivate some energy so that I wouldn't get pulled into sleepy distraction.  

Towards the end of the sit, there was some leg pain and some impatience which was a good opportunity to cultivate some equanimity. The leg pain especially produced this reaction like a disappointed, sinking feeling in my gut - an emotional tone of dread. I refrained from moving for a while so that I could settle into the aversion due to the pain. The impatience came in waves that rippled through the abdomen. Intentions to check the time arose, but I didn't act on them - instead I just watched them pass by.
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RE: AKD Daily Log #2

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7/15/2021 - Morning sit - 60 minutes

Practiced open awareness. This sit was full of distraction. Due to the coffee I had, the body was contracted and restless. This was paired with all sorts of future thoughts related to planning, worrying, fantasizing, imagining, etc. I must have gone off into distraction dozens and dozens of times for a few seconds here and there. Everytime I realized this, I'd drop the thoughts and go back to the body to see what physical or emotional experiences I was avoiding. I was able to cultivate some sense of rest, although it was very wired.

Towards the end of the sit, things became dull as I became drowsy. Impatience was also really strong. Again, I set intentions to ddrop the thoughts and go back to the body sensations to see how the emotions were manifesting. Beginning again and again without fretting too much. 
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RE: AKD Daily Log #2

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7/16/2021 - Afternoon sit - 50 minutes

Didn't really feel like sitting so motivation was rather weak. I started sit with some noting as the mind was busy after a long day at work and some things that were bothering me. After a few minutes, shifted into relaxed open awareness and dropped the noting in favor of noticing. There was a gentle curiosity that investigated body sensations and sound. Any time I got caught up in mind wandering, I returned to the body to see whether there were underlying emotions driving the thought proliferation. Towards the end of the sit, I noticed some emotional content related to sadness and impatience, although this was very lite and easy to settle into. Overall, a fairly pleasant sit. 
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RE: AKD Daily Log #2

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7/17/2021 - Morning sit - 40 minutes

Again felt unmotivated. The sit was a distracted, sluggish one: there was a lot of aversion to turning the mind to the present. Mind wandering was the main flavor of this sit. Intended to sit for an hour, but the lack of heart and distractedness drove me to get up early.


7/17/2021 - Evening sit - 55 minutes

This sit was very sluggish & drowsy - I spent most of the sit sort of tuned out in mind wandering. It was similar to the sit this morning, but I was more relaxed this time around. Trying to bring the mind back to presence just feels so effortful today.  
AKD, modified 18 Days ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #2

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7/18/2021 - Mini retreat - 3.5 hours

Had a friend over and we split 3 hours and 30 minutes into 5 even sessions alternating between sitting and walking (42 minutes per session). We hadn't done one of these in a while so we didn't feel confident doing a full 4 hours. I didn't really worry too much about practicing any particular style of meditation - it was basic mindfulness and I tried to make adjustments where I could. 

Sit #1 - there was a lot of anxiety and struggle that bubbled up as I was trying to get settled in. Overall, the mind wandered a bit and I just remained patient and kept coming back to breath/sound, dropping mental proliferation as I remembered. Anytime mental proliferation occured, I checked in with the body to see what emotions I might be ignoring.

Walk #1 - there were periods of anxiety which was intertwined with mental proliferation. When I dropped proliferation and really tuned into the sensations of the feet, ease and relaxation would become the dominant flavor. At this point, I was flip flopping between axiety and ease, back and forth. Something that became very clear and obvious was the feeling of how the mind was constructing a future self - everytime I would bring the mind back to the present, there was a sense of this all being for some future fulfillment - the promise of awakening in the future was the undertone or context for it all.  

Sit #2 - drowsiness was a hindrance. I was becoming more relaxed and thought content seemed a bit more subtle. Ease increased until I started to nodd off.

Walk #2 - relaxation was pretty well established. I set more intentions to make things simple: just this simple experience here now. It was an intention that also seemed somewhat like a mantra every time I saw mental proliferation coming on. Back to this simple step. This sound. This sensation. There's a progress thought. There's a doubt. There's a worry. There's a step. There's a breath. Keep it simple and stop worrying about progress. 

Sit #3 - Relaxation and settledness came on strong. I felt good. Mental proliferation and mind wandering still occured which was sort of annoying. I guess there was an expectation for better concentration or sensate clarity. Impatience reared its head during the final 10 minutes of the sit and I was really glad to be able to get in touch with it.


Overall, this was a fun session and I am glad we did it. It wasn't some huge, herculean struggle. It just felt like dealing with normal amounts of desire, disatisfaction, ill-will, tuning out, stories, etc. and just patiently coming back to the breath or body or sound. Simple enough.  
AKD, modified 16 Days ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #2

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7/19/2021 - Evening sit - 60 minutes

Sat with the local Zen group. The first half of the sit, I was pretty determined and relied on breath andd sound to contact the present. Doubt was certainly a hindrance which I encountered many times during the session. I had to keep reminding myself to drop the stories and rest. I noticed a general sense of anticipation and restlessness underneath the doubts. The second half of the sit, I was pulled into mind wandering. The motivation had waned and there was little interest in what was occuring. I did my self to patiently bring myself back to the breath, body sensations, and sound.

I notice there is a feeling of shame that I often come back to after I get distracted for periods of time. The shame goes hand in hand with doubts about meditative abilities and whether I am practicing correctly. So much drama in just noticing experience. 
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RE: AKD Daily Log #2

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7/20/2021 - Morning sit - 60 minutes

This sit was especially drowsy. I had trouble sleeping last night in addition to the fact that my neighbors decided to have a shouting match between the hours of 2:00 am and 5:00 am.

I practiced resting in experience with the breath. Lately the mind has been wandering quite a bit which has made it difficult to tune into open awareness. I figured that shifting gears and contacting the breath would help with mindfulness. Due to the drowsy state I was in, I kept tuning out and falling into hypnogogic imagery and dozing.

During this sit, I also tried to take special care in noticing the observer/meditator and how that framing manifested as sensations/thoughts. There was mapping, expectation, evaluation, as well as imagery and stories with regards to mental content. Emotions such as shame and guilt cropped up in relation to losing mindfulness. Doubts were also part of the narratives and stories.

Overall, just a sleepy sit that required me to return and rest in experience again and again and again.


Aside: This morning I was rereading MCTB2's descriptions of 'formations' as found in the section on Equanimity. For years I'd read and reread this section every few months and always scratched my head in confusion. This morning when I read it, I finally sort of understood what it was pointing to. I believe that in the last 3 or so months, I have touched into formations now and again. Then again, I am always open to being incorrect and I will continue sit and be curious about whatever experience is presenting itself in the moment.
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RE: AKD Daily Log #2

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7/21/2021 - Morning sit - 60 minutes

Practiced open awareness this morning along with some self-inquiry. The intention was to set up the view (open awareness or samatha without an object) and rest in that. Then, when thought loops came up, I'd ask a question along the lines of "Who is thinking?" or "Who is having this worry?" or "What is experiencing this?" or "Who am I?" etc. For the most part, I was able to cultivate the sense of spacious, restful awareness. There were hindrances such as confusion, doubts, worries/planning, rumination, etc. but I was able to return and rest in spaciousness again and again. At this point, floating out a self-inquiry question feels a bit clunky so I need to warm up to it. Often times, there was a sense of looking for an answer or a sense of confusion related to asking a question. Sometimes, the mind would drop the queestion and awareness would open up again.

I spoke to my teacher last night and we went over self-inquiry practice as well as open awareness. I explained how in the last few weeks, open awareness has been sort of difficult to settle into (due to reactivity) so he gave me some pointers about shifting into it. We also discussed how this is something that we can practice shifting into at any point throughout the day and how self-inquiry is also to be used off cushion. 

He had a pretty good one-liner with regards to shifting into relaxing, open awareness:
"Let the flavor of release be your guide."
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RE: AKD Daily Log #2

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7/22/2021 - Evening sit - 5 minutes

I was really exhausted due to lack of sleep and this work week has been pretty draining. I didn't have it in me to sit, but I still put my butt on the cushion for a few moments.


7/23/2021 - Evening sit - 45 minutes

Practiced open awareness. I had an interesting afternoon after I got off work so there were lots of memories going through my head. There was also craving for a weekend beer and junk food and plenty of planning thoughts about my day tomorrow. Again, a bit tired after a long day/week, so practice wasn't particularly ardent. I'd often get caught in thought loops and had to begin again and again - tuning into the restful release of spacious awareness. Towards the end of the sit, there was a lot of impatience and some discomfort to contend with as well. 
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RE: AKD Daily Log #2

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7/24/2021 - Noon sit - 60 minutes

Packed up my cushion and hiked to a beautiful cliff overlooking a lake, peaks, and valleys. The first third of the sit was very busy: planning thoughts and worry thoughts. There was also a sense of trying to game the meditation - looking to figure something out. I kept setting the intention to drop proliferation and tune into open awareness.
Once I had some awareness established, I tried to do some self inquiry. I used some of the questions and pointers my teacher had given me. What resulted was some confusion - what is this trying to accomplish? What am I supposed to understand? There was some frustration that bubbled up, but I acknowledged this aversion and fed it back into the inquiry: Who is confused? Who is frustrated? Who is trying to understand? Who am I? Etc. I played around with that for a while and then rested back into awareness.
Towards the end of the sit, sensations (sounds especially) seemed very intimate and some of the sense of observer fell away - dualism had softened. Relaxation became the main flavor of the sit and I just enjoyed the show. 
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RE: AKD Daily Log #2

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7/25/2021 - Afternoon sit - 55 minutes

Practiced open awareness. It didn't take very long to establish the sense of ease and openess. There was a point after about 15 minutes where resistance was arising in the form of various bodily knots and thought loops related to craving. I became curious as to why there was resistance at all - the reaction becomes a distraction in itself which makes it difficult to get clarity into the actual sensations arising in the moment. In a way, resistance is creating a problem where there is none. I examined the knots in the body trying to see what the fuss was all about. There was a gentle sense of release back into open awareness and then I went through this cycle a few times of contracting and releasing.  

I was also really tired. As a result, I started to doze off and sort of napped while sitting up. I spent about 20 minutes of this sit dozing again and again, seeing the hypnogogic imagery before tuning out. 
George S, modified 10 Days ago.

RE: AKD Daily Log #2

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AKD
I became curious as to why there was resistance at all - the reaction becomes a distraction in itself which makes it difficult to get clarity into the actual sensations arising in the moment. In a way, resistance is creating a problem where there is none.
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RE: AKD Daily Log #2

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7/26/2021 - Evening sit - 60 minutes

Sat with the Zen group. Practiced open awareness and some self inquiry. Establishing open awarness was sort of a challenge today. The first half of the sit, I was sort of flailing around and trying to find that balance of ease and clarity, but the mind was busy and there were many doubts. Again, I experimented with self inquiry, but it all seemed sorta inconsequential. I'd ask a question, wait to see what came up, but in a way, there was no sense of direction and the 'noise' of the mind would just get in the way. Or, I'd look for a self, but not really able to find one I'd just sorta sit there confused. There is no sense of traction or understanding, and in that way it feels somewhat pointless. I'll have to keep playing with it. 

The second half of the sit, things settled a bit more and I was able to relax a bit more. Open awareness arose naturally, but even then, the lack of clarity lead to mind wandering and distraction as well as heavy doubts. 
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RE: AKD Daily Log #2

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7/27/2021 - Morning sit - 60 minutes

Sat in open awareness. From the very start, things became relaxedd and spacious. It was really simple to rest in experience. Then, as the sit progressed, all sorts of reactivity/mind-wandering occured. There were plans, regrets, judgements, and doubts about waking up. I tried to float a few self-inquiry thoughts into the mix - "Who is worried?" "Who is thinking?" "Who thinks that they won't wake up?" After flailing around for a while, I reasserted mindfulness and things became restful and spacious once again. Then, since I hadn't slept well last night, I became drowsy and started to doze off. I kept getting dragged into hypnogogic imagery/dreams. The last few minutes of the sit, I felt a bit less tired and once again entered spacious awareness.
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RE: AKD Daily Log #2

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7/28/2021 - Evening sit - 60 minutes

I meditated at the office today after my work day ended. Our company recently moved to a swanky, new building and there is a 'wellness room' dedicated to things like breast feeding, migranes, phone calls, meditation, etc. Due to the size of the office and the floor plan, there are white noise speakers throughout the building to help deaden sound and the wellness room is no different. The white noise speaker in the wellness room is very apparent, but I have no issues with that and it sorta influenced the meditation session.

I decided to start with Metta today. Weeks ago, I was really excited about heart practices, but I haven't been practicing them at all the past 3-5 weeks. I notice a distinct shift in my mood compared to a month or two ago (I won't attribute it to the lack of heart practice necessarily), but I figured I could spend 5-10 minutes at the beginning of my sit sending happiness to my family and friends and coworkers. Discussing it with my teacher last week (after taking a few weeks off), he mentioned that he is still a huge fan of the heart practices and that dedicating time to them is very beneficial - he didn't tell me what to do though... he just sorta floated the idea out there. Anyway, I did maybe 5-10 minutes of Metta before switching to open awareness.

Open awareness was a struggle. It was also interesting. For me, I practice open awareness with eyes close almost always. I rely on sound. I know Kenneth Folk has a video about "listening to the (non-existant) boats in the harbor" and my teacher says to "listen to the sound of the Moon spinning" and I know Papa Che says that he "listens for the sound of the storms on Jupiter" and so on. Another super helpful analogy I came across last week was from a Zen practitioner who said that a meditator (paraphrasing) should be as attentive as a deer in the forest who just heard the snapping of a branch: we have all seen how deer pick their ears up when they believe a threat is nearby.

Anyway, I tuned into the white noise in the room, and I noticed very often how thought loops dragged me away. There were also uncomfortable body sensations like sore muscles or soreness related to posture. The worst thing, though, is that I still have doubts about awakening... I know doubts are future based thoughts, but I get pulled into them constantly. It's hilarious and tragic.
The process goes something like:
"Ah shucks, a future thought/doubt about awakening... go back to the immediate experience: oh, the body is tight/uncomforable... why do I avoid this?...Why am I avoiding this moment... hmmm... and if we tune into sound... well sound is sorta lame... am I doing this right? Really? Sound? Am I awake? Is this it? I am disappointed...Who is disappointed?... Okay well there is disappointment, is it mine? Ah lord? Is any of this helping? What am I doing?......" and so on. I guess I have to reach out to my teacher about self inquiry. It really feels like a game and I'm not getting the joke. 
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RE: AKD Daily Log #2

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7/29 & 7/30 - Skipped, oops!

7/31/2021 - Morning sit - 40 minutes

Practiced open awareness. I'm going out of state for a business trip tomorrow so there is a lot of future thought/planning going on. Restlessness and impatience were strong. Went off into mind wandering many times. Just tried to be kind to myself and come back to the meditation without too much fuss. 

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