Tom's Practice Log #2

Tom Collingwood, modified 1 Year ago at 7/3/21 7:10 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 7/3/21 7:08 PM

Tom's Practice Log #2

Posts: 58 Join Date: 11/14/19 Recent Posts
Hello everyone,
I'm Tom, I plan to log my practice here until the thread grows too long. I posted my first log here four months ago (a potential fun A&P-like experience to read there):

Tom's Practice Log #1

I practice Mahasi noting and insight meditation, as taught by Yuttadhammo Bhikkhu (who is active on YouTube & Discord). Ideally I would like to do an hour a day - 30 minutes walking, 30 minutes sitting. I aim to log here not as often as my first log (daily), but as frequently as I can. Updating on my experiences on-cushion and off cushion mindfulness. I also have an interest in open eyes kasina out-loud noting which I do now and again (thank you Papa emoticon ).

Since the last log I have not been meditating as frequently (perhaps 3 hours a week). My life in general has been okay too, I am in a very stable and supported place at the moment (ripe for some focussed meditation). I hope that by posting here regularly it will help me with my displine and get me back on track, meditation-wise.

Yesterday I meditated for 50 minutes. When walking I was quite distracted by thoughts, it feels like it has become a habit to not treat it as seriously. Sitting gave rise to some pleasant sensations in head, some peace, some quiet for perhaps 10 minutes but then it was followed by a lot of cloudy headedness and dullness. Thoughts came jumbled, like a half asleep mind, while I pulled it back to breath and objects.

Today I read the first chapter and a half of "Being Aware of Being Aware" by Rupert Spira, a non-dual teacher, it has had a bit of an effect on me - it really spoke to me and rang true. It feels like a different approach from vipassana noting I have been doing which focusses on the act of experience, smelling, hearing, thinking, feeling etc, rather than the witness, knower, or the awareness itself. I have heard of people adding to their practice of noting and mindfulness and directing attention to the self, the witness ('who is thinking'). I am aware Rupert Spira comes from a non-dual background, so I know that if I try self-inquiry I may have to make my mind up about my approach if I feel any conflict arise between teachings (i.e. teaching of anatta). Any thoughts are welcome emoticon

Thank you for reading, have a wonderful day,

Lots of metta <3, Tom

Edit: added author name
Tom Collingwood, modified 1 Year ago at 7/6/21 7:11 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 7/6/21 7:11 PM

RE: Tom's Practice Log #2

Posts: 58 Join Date: 11/14/19 Recent Posts
I've read nearly all of Being Aware of Being Aware, pausing after each paragraph doing some digesting and some self-inquiry (questioning the thinker). I got quite still and calm and tried to look back at the thinker (but it's not an object!). Nothing crazy happened, like unbounded consciousness, but the book is resonating. I have also been watching the Dr. Angelo Diullo interviews mentioned in this thread - finished part two today. Also noticed Kenneth Folk's second gear is self inquiry, looking at the thinker stuff. Ingram mentioning non-duality as his favourite model. I think now I'm looking out for non-dual practices I'm seeing it everywhere now (definate example of Baader-Meinhof phenomenon / frequency illusion).

Before investigating this stuff what was on my mind is how I experience thoughts (maybe a month ago I was preoccupied with this). What sort of shocked me is I realise I have no internal dialogue. Instead I sort of think in ideas and concepts that sometimes have words but more often do not. I may say that because it's not really a dialogue, verbal thing, I think I probably have less thoughts? Why this didn't come up sooner (say, when being mindful of thoughts) is that thoughts are spoken about a lot (in meditation instructions) as thoughts not dialogue often (I do remember me being questioning of 'hearing' note for thinking in Shinzen's unified mindfulness instructions). So I wanted to understand how common this is, I asked my friends and family, a lot of them have a monologue but a few couldn't really pin it down as it was the first time really stepping back from their thoughts. It was mentioned near the end of the second Dr. Angelo video (link to video at relevant timestamp), the way he seems to either dismiss (too identified with thought stream to notice dialogue) or to say that is 'no thoughts' with non-dual presence / very little perceptual filters. To be honest it scares me to be in either category. It seems thought format gets very little mention in general even in meditation circles (unless anyone thinks otherwise?).

This made me take stock of where I am in my life at the moment. I definitely wasn't like this all my life, I remember distinctly having racing thoughts when I was struggling with anxiety and psychosis. I really do hesitate to put myself on any maps, but I haven't experienced any heavy dark night stuff, and Daniel Ingram does say for some the dark night doesn't last long (hours, days). I just feel quite peaceful and calm recently (past 6 months), whether it is eqanimity or not my first response would be: well I'm surely not formally meditating enough! But I do get sense that's not a reliable indicator for some people, maybe like myself, who pause to do some shorter meditations / mindful activities during day at random points (train journeys, cooking, pre-sleep, watching dharma talks). Second response to map placing: nothing monumental has happened! There are no fireworks or whizz bangs in meditation sessions. I just feel quiet in my mind more and moderate piti in sits. Maybe I just need to enter that stream, baby! One day!

Hopefully the one good thing is I don't think I'm too attached to where "i am" or what to do. Just some small thoughts on myself that other's find useful.

Plates of metta, Tom <3
Tom Collingwood, modified 1 Year ago at 7/6/21 7:35 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 7/6/21 7:26 PM

RE: Tom's Practice Log #2

Posts: 58 Join Date: 11/14/19 Recent Posts
A small post to explain my current experience as I realise I was so carried away in thoughts that I failed to expand upon "quiet and calm".

I can direct attention fairly well to what I like at a reasonable frequency, more than 1 object per second, perhaps 4. When noting I tend to slow that down especially when performing actions. I am not experiencing any heavy emotional content day to day. I have quite good attention on things I am doing, like watching videos, Zoom calls, daily tasks. Some small pleasure from the concentration in off-sit tasks but nothing like the A&P style stuff I was getting described in my first log (link in first post).

I can get quite still in insight meditation, keeping attention on the objects and noting well, little to no lost in thoughts, when distractions arise they become the object quickly. I do get the occaisonal sit where I do nod off or get into some murky hypnagogic states. I admit that walking I do get distracted and attention is often lost.

So in general I think I'm just overthinking the whole thing and I'll keep plodding on emoticon

Edit: my insecurity is popping in and I think the thought in its non-verbal utterage translated to roughly "how silly to even equate my experience with equanimity, you're probably on first vipassna jhana if that" - then I label it and watch it pass emoticon
Papa Che Dusko, modified 1 Year ago at 7/7/21 2:25 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 7/7/21 2:25 AM

RE: Tom's Practice Log #2

Posts: 2459 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
"Maybe I just need to enter that stream, baby! One day!"

Sorry but ain't gonna happen! Haven't you heard?! SE is sold out in the Dhamma Webshop and no one knows when it will be in stock, if ever. You are fucked! All you have left is THIS moment RIGHT NOW ... this ... this ... this ... this ... 

Best wishes emoticon 

p.s. fuck mapping! Only This Moment is important ... what is it? ... note after note ... (diligent , at least while on cushion, daily sits)

Best wishes once again! emoticon 

... Off into the vast fields I go to remove pesty weeds (helping a local farmer) 
Tom Collingwood, modified 1 Year ago at 7/7/21 7:38 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 7/7/21 7:38 AM

RE: Tom's Practice Log #2

Posts: 58 Join Date: 11/14/19 Recent Posts
Yes, I like the anti-goal approach, nooowww is all there is! Also I like wandering too, who needs a map when you have this moment? ;)
My next post I think will be more sit-focussed reporting emoticon
Papa Che Dusko, modified 1 Year ago at 7/7/21 12:04 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 7/7/21 12:04 PM

RE: Tom's Practice Log #2

Posts: 2459 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
"anti-goal approach"

emoticon well, I do think its nice to have a goal but not the one that feels like standing alone on a buss stop and waiting for that late fucking buss that is just not arriving!!! emoticon 

I think something like having THIS practice right now being the goal in itself for the benefit of all. I would use Ingram's approach before each sit "I will now practice noting as thought by my teacher KF and I will do that as best as I can for 45-60 minutes. May I awaken as fast as humanly possible for the benefit of myself and all other beings" then I lock into Nowness Unfloding one moment after the next , label, label, label ... at the end of session say "may this practice be of benefot to all".

Also, you mentioned Ingram saying non-duality being his favorite practice. Kenneth Folk also used to say that. BUT! emoticon They did not start with non-duality and instead were totally locked into Mahasi Noting for a long time (at least pre SE) emoticon and they didnt mix other methods while they were practicing Mahasi Noting. (as far as I know but I might be wrong).

Then again we all have that Meditator Dancer in us emoticon that wants to try this and that, dance this and that dance, learn cool tricks and what not and will spend lots of time doing that instead of really digging and plowing into THIS MOMENT as it arise-passes one after the other ... tap ... tap ... tap ... as if my life depends on it! The Meditator Dancer needs to go about testing and showing off states it can get, new moves it has learned and it will go on and on until one day, maybe, if lucky, the Dukkha will be so unbearable and there simply is nothing left but utter misery and disqust with it all, and then just lock onto THIS as if being with THIS is THE LIBERATION itself. Then this practice comes to its boiling point.

Folks here might have different opinions but mine is , do Noting all the way, and forget about what folks say about stopping noting in EQ Nana and instead doing choiceless awareness. Its better contiune noting longer than stop too soon! Also, once in actual EQ Nana you WILL KNOW for sure emoticon and there will stuff just get slower noting-wise and might even drop away on its own. However I still kept on throwing in a note every few seconds just for the sake of it and "boring" was one label repeated often emoticon This lasted for about 4 weeks I think and can also be a challenge, but keeping that ars on the cushion and sitting with that boredom is The Way.

However , all this being said, it is you who decides if you want to do this or that practice. One can mix up stuff like Kasina and Noting which is something I did and do and find to be very potent cobination! I would do open eyes Kasina while Noting full on 1-5 sensations a second.Maybe there is a way to do Non-duality and Noting at the same time, or Non-duality and Kasina at the same time? Dunno emoticon Its your practice and it has to make sense to YOU not me or anyone else here.

Ok, emoticon jeez I have written alot ... my appologies for that! I hope my words do not confuse but inspire instead! emoticon Best wishes Tom! 
Tom Collingwood, modified 1 Year ago at 7/8/21 12:32 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 7/8/21 12:32 PM

RE: Tom's Practice Log #2

Posts: 58 Join Date: 11/14/19 Recent Posts
like standing alone on a bus stop
I was matching your energy and may have been over-exagerating throwing goals away emoticon I appreciate that obssessing over goals and maps like as if at a bus stop is not helpful. I think I got into that mode when approaching posting here due to the DhO of it all!

I would use Ingram's approach before each sit "I will now practice noting
I like this approach - I used to start and end with a mindful prostration. A slow bow with head touching ground then raised prayer hands to temple all three times. Felt a bit ritualistic tho :/ This way of resolving to the practice and almost offering of the practice is great.

didnt mix other methods 
I think I'm learning to be a bit more liberal with what I choose to do. I was quite the adherent to Bhante Yuttadhammo's teaching while doing his course for a few months. Ultimately I'm with you on noting but when I self-enquire it brings a certain stillness to my mind which helps my concentration in whatever task I am doing. It is tied into my interest in how I think not in words (and I can't seem to pin down many thoughts which makes me worry I am not vigilent but I do not think that is the case) and questioning my default mode of being at the moment.

The meditation dancer in me I hope is sticking to a certain line, but I like hearing about how self-enquiry sometimes marries up with mindfulness (i.e. KF's gear changes). It also seems quite simple to do, when noting you can just question on top now and again when you want (who experiences this? watch how it fades, it was you but now is not - the 'mix stuff up' like you say). So I may allow myself using self-enquiry and nondual ideas in order to notice the three characteristics (who am I?) and bring myself into a calm state if not nondua unbound shenaningansl.

Its your practice and it has to make sense to YOU not me or anyone else here.
When watching some Dr. DiLullo videos what struck me was "what works for you" approach, see what you can tap into and what works and gels. As I say, I used to think 'this is the way Bhante does it and so it should be for me'. So agree 100%!

Appreciate your reply - I don't mind you wrote a lot - I enjoy it as will the anon readers who lurk! Hope you'll forgive me for doing the same.

Thank you <3
George S, modified 1 Year ago at 7/9/21 3:26 AM
Created 1 Year ago at 7/9/21 3:20 AM

RE: Tom's Practice Log #2

Posts: 2752 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Hi Tom! Good to see you back emoticon

Self-enquiry/non-dual can be a very powerful technique, so if it appeals to you at the moment then I say go for it! Like you say, you can always mix it in with a bit of noting as well. Have fun, experiment, see which practices have what effects, and figure out what works for you!

All the best,
Tom Collingwood, modified 1 Year ago at 7/15/21 6:13 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 7/15/21 6:13 PM

RE: Tom's Practice Log #2

Posts: 58 Join Date: 11/14/19 Recent Posts
I just did 40 minutes sitting, the first 20 minutes or so were pretty normal. I have a slight fogginess in my head, like a very small headache. I managed to note well and was not distracted much. Then for about 5 minutes I was getting some very intense itching on my face and head, I did not itch but kept still, noted and kept with the sensations. Then after, I was getting some pleasant sensations in head and my breathing deepened and breaths were longer.

Then at 30 minute mark (I know this as my bell rang then) my lower jaw started to feel very big, my hands feeling large too. I also had a sense of openness around head, as if it was coming from visual field, like everything was very close to my eyes but also very expansive. I didn't end sit but kept going for 10 minutes, attending to these sensations and noting but often loosing the noting and just keeping with sensation, keeping a curiousity about what it felt like. Then more of my body felt very big towards the end, my arms too. Then it stopped and I decided to end the sit at the 40 minute mark.

I've had similar experiences of the large feeling of limbs / body parts in a feverish half dreams. There's a certain feeling of how it would move too, like it is soft and numb. 

Anyway! Happy I kept with the sensations but perhaps could be better at consistent noting in these strange sensation times.
Tom Collingwood, modified 1 Year ago at 7/15/21 6:16 PM
Created 1 Year ago at 7/15/21 6:16 PM

RE: Tom's Practice Log #2

Posts: 58 Join Date: 11/14/19 Recent Posts
Happy to be back emoticon

I think I will use it as a bit of a probe for the nature of what I am noting. So far I have found it seems to quieten thoughts when I ask who is witnessing them. I do it off-cushion. Perhaps a beginner non-dual meditation could be fun to explore.